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Militarizing Venezuela and supporting terrorists?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, May 12, 2008

Hugo goes shopping:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will order $2 billion of Russian weapons, including submarines, during a visit to Moscow this month, Kommersant reported, without saying where it got the information.

Venezuela, which has bought $4 billion of Russian arms in the last three years, will order four Project 636 diesel subs, Mi-28 combat helicopters and airplanes made by Ilyushin Co., Kommersant said.
Chavez has been on a military spending spree for some time. And many are wondering what the purpose of such spending is. Oh, it is well known that he uses the US as the reason for arming up, but is that really why he feels the need to buy advanced weaponry?

As was demonstrated in his latest call up of his army during the "crisis" with Colombia, his isn't the most proficient army in the world, but there has to be a reason that Chavez is arming Venezuela beyond any alleged threat from the US.

The WSJ reported a day or two ago on one real possiblity. Information taken from a laptop belonging to FARC terrorists killed in a cross border raid by Colombian troops in Ecuador has allegedly yielded some very deep connections between Chavez and the terrorists:
The computer files hint at the depth of Mr. Chávez's antipathy towards the U.S., which he often describes as an "empire" oppressing Latin America. According to one document, Venezuela's interior minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacin, last November asked the FARC to train Venezuela's military in nuts-and-bolts guerrilla tactics — including "operational tactics, explosives, ... jungle camps, ambushes, logistics, mobility" — so that soldiers would be prepared to fight a guerrilla war if the U.S. were to invade Venezuela.
So using the cross-training of Venezuelan troops in "guerilla war" against a non-existent US threat as a pretext for the relationship (the not so subtle subtext being the view that FARC is a legitimate organization and Colombia's government is nothing more than a US proxie), Chavez has a reason to support the relationship materially and otherwise.

Of course Chavez has been lobbying to have FARC removed from the list of terrorist organizations, thus far to no avail. But, more importantly, per the documents found on the computer, he's been supporting them with weapons and other materials as well as political and other support.
One email, apparently sent by a FARC commander known as "Timochenko" to the guerrillas' ruling body in March 2007, describes meetings with Venezuelan naval-intelligence officers who offer the FARC assistance in getting "rockets." The Venezuelans also offer to help a FARC guerrilla travel to the Middle East to learn how to use the rockets.

Colombian military analysts believe the reference is to shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, a weapon that the guerrillas desperately need if they hope to blunt Colombia's recent gains. "The FARC realizes that its military problem is air power," says Gen. Oscar Naranjo, who heads the country's national police.

In another email dated early 2007, FARC commander Iván Márquez describes meetings with the Venezuelan military's intelligence chief, Gen. Hugo Carvajal, and another Venezuelan officer to talk about "finances, arms and border policy." Mr. Márquez relates that the Venezuelans will provide the guerrillas some 20 "very powerful bazookas," which Colombian military officials believe is a reference to rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

An officer reached at Gen. Carvajal's office said the general was the only person authorized to comment and he couldn't be reached because he was traveling.

At the meeting with Gen. Carvajal, another Venezuelan general is described as offering the port of Maracaibo to facilitate arms shipments to the guerrillas. The general suggests piggybacking on shipments from Russia — from which Venezuela itself is buying everything from Kalashnikovs to jet fighters — to "include some containers destined to the FARC" with various arms for the guerrillas' own use.

A spokesman at the Russian embassy in Washington declined to comment.

The proposals to obtain weaponry are part of a broad program of economic and political support for the FARC from Mr. Chávez's government, some of which was detailed in emails that were made public in the days just after the cross-border military raid that yielded the computer files.

Another email describes a November meeting between two FARC commanders and Mr. Chávez. The commanders, Ricardo Granda and Iván Márquez, report back in the email that Mr. Chávez gave orders to create "rest areas" and hospital zones for the guerrillas to use on the Venezuelan side of the border.

Many documents talk about how to fit generous offers of Venezuelan aid to the FARC's long-term "strategic plan" of taking power in Colombia. In one document dated January 2007, one top FARC commander speaks of a "loan" for $250 million to buy arms which the FARC will pay back once it has reached power. "Don't think of it as a loan, think of it as solidarity," says Mr. Rodríguez Chacin, the interior minister, in another document.
The files have yet to be verified, although Interpol computer experts, who've been examining them for months, are supposed to issue a report soon. Meanwhile, as expected, both FARC and Venezuela have called the files "fake". Unfortunately, some of the files have been verified:
There have been some recent indications that the computers contain accurate information. Police in Costa Rica staged a successful raid on a home belonging to alleged FARC sympathizers, and recovered $480,000 in cash, guided by information from the documents suggesting the money would be located there.

In addition, Ecuador's interior minister confirmed that he had met with Mr. Reyes, after an email describing the previously secret meeting was found on the laptops and made public by Colombia.
If these documents are verified as real and corroborated, the fallout could be significant. Colombia will, justifiably, have a case against Venezuela for meddling in its internal affairs and supporting terrorists whose aim it is to topple that government. How Venezuela will react is anyone's guess, but there were certainly be heightened tensions at a minimum. Whether other Latin American states will call Venezuela to task as they did Colombia about its cross-border raid that netted these documents remains to be seen. But watching Chavez operate now for a few years, I doubt that being caught red-handed will deter him one bit.

If there's going to be war in South America, it won't be because the US started it, I'd be willing to bet on that. It'll start with Venezuela and Colombia and it will be because of Chavez's desire to export his "Bolivarian revolution" and expand his tin-pot dictatorship.
 
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Some Contrarian Questions:

How old were Venezuela’s previous weapons? Is he simply replacing and updating or augmenting?

If you were in charge of planning Venezuela’s national defense, what would be your list of serious external threats? Even if they are fairly remote, I’d suggest the USA would top the list, followed by Colombia. If I put on my ideological blinkers, I’d be even more worried about the USA, which historically has intervened in Latin America against leftist regimes. (Without the blinkers I pretty much agree with you: since the end of the cold war there is very little US interest in intervening in leftist regimes in Latin America.)

Now, for evidence in your favor, the dude does lead a "Bolivarian" revolution, and Simon Bolivar did export his revolution around South America...he’s playing at this role, but its having a lot of backlash. I also worry we could get sucked into a border conflict between Colombia and Venezuela.



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
How old were Venezuela’s previous weapons? Is he simply replacing and updating or augmenting?
I’m sure he’s replacing some, but he’s also arming his newly formed militia (the one designed to keep him in power). And the attack helicopters and subs are new. I’m not sure, given the dearth of real threats, why that sort of a capability is necessary, but hey, he can spend his petro bucks any way he wants too.

And if you read that bit from the WSJ they’re also using it as an excuse and a way to arm the FARC terrorists.
If you were in charge of planning Venezuela’s national defense, what would be your list of serious external threats?
Pre-Chavez? None. Venezuela was a US ally. So any external threat is one of Chavez’s making.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Canada is a US ally, and yet we plan for the off chance we have to fight them, so I don’t think Venezuelans would be dumb not to consider it. I mean, get your point but this may not be as a big deal yet.
but he’s also arming his newly formed militia (the one designed to keep him in power)
I couldn’t find anything about this in the article, but I have to note that in both Chile and Indonesia, the formation of leftist popular "5th Force" militias outside of the normal military is one of the main causes for the coups in those countries. If Chavez is doing this, then we may see a similar situation occur.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Buenos Dias Amigos!

This cannot be. How could Russia do this to us? Didn’t Giorgio look into Putin’s Soul? We elected El Presidente based on his superior judgement. (Plus we imagined having a cerveza with him would be more enjoyable than having one with El Gringo del Norte). I refuse to believe thees, how you say, propoganda!

Adios.
 
Written By: Pedro the Illegal Alien
URL: http://microsoft.com
Christ in heaven,after reading that, you sound like one of those cheesy over-the-top mexicans in a bad sitcom.

I doubt your hispanic, ’Pedro’.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
If you were in charge of planning Venezuela’s national defense, what would be your list of serious external threats? Even if they are fairly remote, I’d suggest the USA would top the list, followed by Colombia. If I put on my ideological blinkers, I’d be even more worried about the USA, which historically has intervened in Latin America against leftist regimes. (Without the blinkers I pretty much agree with you: since the end of the cold war there is very little US interest in intervening in leftist regimes in Latin America.)
Well, the helos and jets would be toast against the US. The subs also wouldn’t last very long, and they are an offensive weapon.

This type of hardware has much more value against, say, Columbia than against the US . . .

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Sure, so he buys some of that to defend against regional threats, and the AK-47s, RPGs and help from FARC are for against the USA, in a planned guerilla war.

Actually, even more likely than plans against Colombia is that he is buying the planes and subs as new toys to buy off the air force and navy. Remember, he has to keep the military sweet to remain in power.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

 
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