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ESCENARIO: ACTUALIDAD
posted on 6 th june of 2006

THE CHAVEZ – CASTRO AXIS: THE HEMISPHERE’S NEW THREAT

Colombia could expect armed aggression from Venezuela in the near future, inspired by ideological, political and also, in a more covert way, geo-strategic justifications. The current arms build up plan in Caracas- according to what one retiring General from the Colombian Army says– would point in that direction. This due to the fact that a conflict with the United States is out of the question because of disproportional forces, and Cuba, which has been the other traditionally hypothetical conflict of the United States, is now an ally of Venezuela. Colombia, according to Venezuela’s head of State, is South American’s leader of “Monroe-ism.”

Written by: Néstor Ramírez Mejia (*)   

It is obvious that the President of Venezuela is destroying his country’s institutionalism. For this, he has been able to count on the majority of voters as well as the international political support of former Presidents Carter and Gaviria.

The policy of the dismantling of the democratic weave – as it is conceived of in a modern and western world view – has had its strongest expressions in the purging of the armed forces and the consequent rupture in the chain of commands, which is sacred to the sensibility and mentality of every military person.  It has continued with the militant bureaucracy of the present political process in the petroleum entity, PDVSA, and the justice system.  These are measures of purging that allow, in the short run to get resources for cooperating in the criminalization of the current or the potential dissidence.

In the medium term, around one and a half million military –90.000 provided with Russian AK-47 rifles- will be responsible for guaranteeing the stability of the state and to enforce an equilibrium of powers with the legitimate military institution by  using the new paramilitary armed device. In the assuring of the new political panorama is intended to be guaranteed through the state control of the educational programs from preschool on. For this, the staggering but rapid change of 110.000 teachers is being produced and changed for educators with leanings which, through classroom speeches, aspire to indoctrinate the youth ideologically. 

The strategic support to the gigantic operation is represented with the presence in Venezuela of around 60.000 Cuban advisors. They will invigorate the transfer of the Cuban revolution to Venezuela.  This situation is not enviable. furthermore, there is little that the traditional friends of that country can do to help in a problematic that belongs to the Venezuelans; As the first article of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates when referring to the self-determination of nations. 

THE GLOBALIZATION OF THE REVOLUTION

Despite the fact that the Venezuelan problem should be internal, it is beginning to affect the Continent.  The former Venezuelan minister Ochoa Antich, in his conference “Revolution, Subversion and Hemispherical Security”, cites part of a speech given by the leader of Caracas that gives clear intentions of their political horizon:  “Two conflicting axis have been defined:  Caracas, Brasilia, Buenos Aires.  These are the axis through which strong winds of change run. There is another axis formed by Bogota, Quito, Lima, La Paz and Santiago. This axis is dominated by the Pentagon. Our strategy should be the breaking of the "Monroe-istic" axis and the forming of the South American unity”. 

That vision together with its attitude is in direct conflict to the ambiguous tendencies that encouraged democratic strengthening against the totalitarianism of the left and the populism of the right in the nineties, but which, on the other hand, increased the gap of poverty preparing the ground for the present

resurgence of leftist populisms. Today the most solid of the aforementioned  is the Cuban with its veteran revolution now relying on a “Bolivar-style” speech, which benefits from the high prices of petroleum.  The rebellious proposal that is emerging from the Eastern Caribbean is none other than a renewed combination of fighting methods.

The list of evidence is eloquent: on the one hand, the Continental Bolivarian Coordination  (CCB) has been conformed in Venezuela in order to create structures in each country that take charge of expanding the so called “Bolivariano” ideology, in the also so called  – as the militant language of the sixties defined it - “new Latin-American country”. 

On the other hand, the appearance in Venezuela of the church “Christ Mission” is reviving the old and well known theology of liberation, which endorses movements such as the guerrilla movement as “legitimate violence” and Marxism as the practice of Christianity.

In that same way, the ideological affinity of Chavez with the FARC of Colombia, the "Sintierra" of Brazil, the Socialist movements of Bolivia and Pachakutik of Equator is well known; all of these should be added into the same container as the Piqueteros from Argentina and the Native Fronts of Peru.

Chavez’s speech conceives the Latin American unit as more of a political order than in economic terms.  This, according to the criteria of Ochoa Antich, means the attempt to impose “ideologies of the radical left that, at the same time, require revolutionary states that compromise the hemispherical security.” To finance this strategy, the Chavez-Castro connection has created a common fund fed by and wrapped up in the daily export of 87.000 barrels of petroleum to Cuba, of which this country barely consumes 40.000 barrels.  The surplus is resold under favorable conditions to the Central American countries and the Caribbean.

UNWARRANTED ARMS BUILD-UP

Although anybody could consider that the purchase of weapons by Venezuela is a necessary, logical, and natural renewal to remove the obsolete equipment from inventory, what cannot be understood is the threat that Caracas intends to neutralize with the acquisition of 120 battle airplanes, 4 missile corvettes, conventional kilo class submarines, 200 AMX-30 tanks, 10 attack helicopters and l00.000 AK-47 rifles.

To draw a comparison to establish the dimensions of the present situation at this point, it is good to recall that when Argentina challenged Great Britain in Malvinas, it used all of the strength of its air force, which did not surpass 50 planes ready for the battle against one of the largest conquering historical powers in the two world wars. The Argentinean air potential at that moment was not so different to what they had available to face Chile in 1978, during the Beagle conflict.

At that time the country of the  Plata  river could have been considered a military power of the region and was approaching the acquisition of technological capacity and infrastructure to manufacture an atomic bomb and to transport it in their own medium range missiles.  The critical quantity that is proposed currently for the air force of Venezuela would triple that of Argentina in state of war two decades ago.

In reality, just with the updating of its F-16 airplanes, the AMX-30 medium tanks  and the fleet that it already possesses, Venezuela would increase in an ostensible way the already marked asymmetry of its firepower compared to that of Colombia, which has been its main and traditional enemy of military confrontation.  

Cuba has been the second hypothetical threat to Venezuela, but today is its ally and an armed clash with United States is not only unthinkable despite the present circumstances, but also because of the vast disproportion in the size of both countries. This last hypothetical situation is as absurd as is the provocative attitude against the great northern continental power, along with the intention to negotiate nuclear material that, in the event of being done, would place it in what has been deemed the “axis of evil” in the world.

THE NEAR FUTURE

The self called “Bolivarian Revolution” is being consolidated in Venezuela very fast. Nevertheless, its extension depends in good measure on the permanent economic injection and, at the same time, on the integral populist operation based on the high prices of petroleum.  The economist Pedro Carmona has indicated that the break point of the messianic project would be in the US$ 40oo a barrel, a situation that itself is not glimpsed in the immediate future and that would for sure leave a burdensome mortgage on the shoulders of several generations of Venezuelans.

The only counterweight to the petroleum prosperity in Venezuela, that would be able in a way to affect the governing ability, is the growing corruption that, by tradition, has accompanied almost all – if not all- the populist experiences in Latin America, and a poverty that also grows beyond conceived limits despite the verbal overflow in favor of the needy.  Another possible obstacle to the “Bolivarian” hegemony is the rivalry that is nested against Brazil, for the regional leadership.

The Brazilian State considers itself an emerging power of world influence and it does not seem possible that they will be willing to renounce their historic aspirations to a challenge that would be able to be considered as somewhat passing and subject only to the random contingency, the folklore and the exalted personality which, by historical accident, have arisen from Caracas.

The governments of the hemisphere, particularly those of the moderate left  and in contrary to what is happening in Venezuela, require more from the international credit and support agencies than those of the radical left or those of petroleum with ideological considerations including joint alliances and blatant or covert blackmail. The forecast is clear for the Continent: The expansion of the “Bolivarian revolution” will not pass from the “refried” nostalgic of the beginnings of the 21st century, which evoke the flawed utopia of the failure in the 20th century.

The “large mutations prompted by the productive forces”, will not be produced in the structure of the societies that Marxism as interpreted by Lenin predicted. But tropicalism will be stimulated by the individual or collective imagination prone to exits which include the ritualistic self sacrifice or sacrifice of others by irregular armed exercises which are typical of pre-modern mentality.

Behind this tragic vocation is the rebirth of that which is already known to exhaustion as revolutionary orders; the persistent intention of some activist group by insisting on the irregular armed illegitimacy and, as a backdrop, all kinds of

social movements that, beyond the justice of their demands, finish in not few involuntary cases being “fronts of masses” for the extremists.

Colombia, the neighbor, could be the major victim of this dark panorama for being, in the feverish vision of the present Venezuelan leadership, as the movers of the presumed "Monroe-ist" axis and, consequently, a strategic objective that opens expectations to aggression justified in the ideological substrate and one that will not lack pretexts and economic or military resources.

Also, the victim could be Bolivia, due to their unfortunate and traditional institutional weakness, increased by the ethnic confrontations that, at the same time, are combined with radicals and exclusive and ancient considerations of class.  In the so called “country of the high plains” there seems to be the land credited for the establishment of a state that expresses the force of a so called new left that would have the intention of remodeling the utopian story of the Latin-American country and that, with time, would give way in the region, to a third cold War state. This last being an Anachronism that was supposed to be well long passed.

The free countries of the Continent are in conditions to produce a turn in this disturbing current. But, while the corrective arises, it is well worth it to begin to open a Hegelian dialectic with the evil course that puts forth in front of the populisms of the left some populisms of the right, or an inefficient democracy.

The leaders of the Region should design an alternate way, a third option that, as in the case of India or China for example, has broken their withdrawal by stimulating education and technological development by opening their markets to the world.  But, above all, the leaders of Latin America should eliminate the chains of corruption and impunity that arise in repeated forms in democracies and therefore the same, always fragile. The contrary is to continue rotating in the vicious circle that unites the past with the current chaos and exposes our countries to regressive and dangerous outcomes such as the one that the Chaves-Castro axis proposes, the one that has become the new threat of the hemisphere (aresprensa.com).


 (*) Retiring General From the Colombian Army


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