President Hugo Chavez appears to have stepped in deep dung of his own manufacture on national television this week.
“I have no doubt that La Piedrita is infiltrated by the CIA…is being financed by the ultra-right and must be neutralized,” Chavez said, adding, “We cannot tolerate machineries of war or terrorism using the name of the revolution.”
The president’s unsubstantiated and knowingly false charge that La Piedrita is a CIA front has enraged the radical left of the Bolivarian revolution.
The accusation explicitly sends a strong message by El Comandante that he views La Piedrita’s members as traitors to the Bolivarian revolution. Stupid move.
Almost immediately, the radical left replied with a well-written and scathing criticism directed against President Chavez on the web site el23.net. A second editorial was posted on the site this morning.
Meanwhile, La Piedrita’s leader Valentin Santana has not been detained yet, though a team of 60 CICPC detectives reportedly is searching for the man who said he would die for President Chavez, only to be rewarded by Chavez with a nationally televised condemnation of La Piedrita.
Tupamaros chieftain Jose Tomas Pinto says Santana will never allow himself to be captured alive, that La Piedrita will stand and fight, that other revolutionary armed groups likely will join La Piedrita in battling the forces of the right, and many, many people will be killed.
But Pinto adds that there is “no one” in the government (including by inference the armed forces) with the “cojones” needed to enter 23 de enero, where “everyone is armed to the teeth.”
Apparently a critical rupture has occurred in President Chavez’s relations with the revolution’s radical left.
Did Chavez unwittingly stick his foot deep in his own mouth? Or, alternatively, is the president implementing a new strategy to purge the Bolivarian bourgeoisie which, charges veteran Marxist militant Douglas Bravo, has corrupted the people’s revolution from inside the regime?
Caracas Gringo suspects Chavez tripped over his own big mouth, because launching an internal purge by going after the loyal radical left, which has no direct administrative role in the government, makes no sense.
If a rift has opened between Chavez and the radical left of the revolution, what are the implications? Can the rift be healed? Or are we seeing the faint beginnings of a new revolution by radical Marxist purists against a Bolivarian revolution which calls itself socialist but in practice continues to embrace rightist political and economic models?
Bravo warned recently that a grassroots popular revolt by true revolutionaries is brewing inside the regime, inside the armed forces, and inside the oil industry.
Bravo also predicted that 2009 would see the start of a new revolution against a Bolivarian revoljution which has strayed very far from the path of the real Venezuelan people’s nationalist and socialist revolution, which never contemplated a militarized one-man state or the interference of external powers like Cuba.
What compelled President Chavez to betray his loyal revolutionary street forces? Rafael Poleo speculated that something very serious must have rocked Chavez’s world on 6-7 February, else why the startling public condemnation of La Piedrita and its leader Valentin Santana, who only last year was condecorated by former Libertador district Mayor Freddy Bernal?
Poleo hints that Chavez may have been warned of potential unrest within the armed forces with respect to the increasingly bold statements and actions of civilian urban guerrilla groups which military intelligence knows to be armed with military weapons. There isn’t a general or admiral on active duty today who hasn’t been co-opted by Chavez, but these officers aren’t the problem.
Chavez’s military problem likely comes from lower-ranking officers (majors and colonels) who support the original tenets of the Bolivarian revolution, which Chavez strayed from a decade ago almost immediately he became president. These are the officers Bravo referred to, but Bravo is mistaken if he thinks this military sector will ever share power with the radical civilian left.
There has always been a conflict between the military and civilian components of the Bolivarian revolution.
Chavez preserved a balance between these competing forces for years, but a decade has passed, the president’s revolutionary star has dimmed more than a little bit, and the economy is plunging to unknown depths this year.
Historically, the military (including the left within the military) has never trusted the civilian left, and vice versa, which is not that different from the mutual distrust between the military and civilian governments during the Fourth Republic two-party “Guanabana” era (Green Copei, White AD).
Military intelligence (DIM) constantly generates intelligence reports for President Chavez on a broad range of topics. But not all DIM intelligence reports reach the president’s hands. This also applies to intelligence reports generated by the Interior & Justice Ministry’s DISIP political police.
The military’s top priorities are its own institutional survival, and maintaining public order nationally.
The increasingly bold attacks and menacing rhetoric over the past six weeks of gangs like La Piedrita and Lina Ron’s bikers likely have stirred concern among many revolutionary army officers that emergent non-state actors (i.e. rural militant groups like FBL and urban guerrillas like La Piedrita) could disrupt public order and push Venezuela towards a social conflict in which the apparent internal unity of the armed forces also could be ruptured with unknowable but dangerous consequences for Venezuela’s social stability.
The editorials posted on el23.net made it clear that the radical revolutionary left believes the Chavez regime is packed with corrupt individuals who are not true Marxists or revolutionaries.
The editorials also criticized Chavez for knowing the real identities of prosecutor Danilo Anderson’s killers, but not ordering their arrest. Although no names are mentioned, the unidentified writers of el23.net’s editorials clearly are referring to Jose Vicente Rangel, who is widely believed to be one of the primary intellectual authors of Anderson’s car bomb assassination.
And, most ominously, the editorials drew a line in the sand between the radical revolutionary left and President Chavez and his PSUV party. The editorials explicitly warned that La Piedrita and all the other people’s revolutionary collectives in Venezuela will stand and fight against anyone and anything that stands in the way of the true revolution.