Bolivarians in Bariloche

President Hugo Chavez fancies himself a warrior, a Bolivarian warlord, a great Venezuelan military historian and strategist.

However, here’s the truth: Hugo Chavez has never commanded troops in actual combat anywhere.

Chavez talks a mean fight, but throughout his life has always opted for running away from the possibility of suffering a hot lead enema.

The only military adventure in which Chavez ever participated – the attempted coup against then-President Carlos Andres Perez on 4 February, 1992 – ended in failure less than 12 hours after it was launched.

And the biggest reason why it failed is that the coup’s putative chief plotter and principal leader – Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez Frias – halted his forces well out of harm’s way in Caracas and immediately started to negotiate his surrender.

Betrayal is as natural as breathing to Chavez.

However, on Friday of this week, Chavez will take his Great Leader/Warrior dog-and-pony show to the Argentine ski resort of Bariloche where the heads of state of the South American Union (Unasur) countries are meeting to discuss the new Colombia-US base rights agreement.

The Colombia-US agreement isn’t any of Unasur’s business, but Colombia’s government is willing to hear the views of Unasur’s members and present its case on why the base rights agreement is vital to Colombia’s national security.

Chavez has been beating the rhetorical drums of war loudly since the new Colombia-US base rights agreement was announced. He claims that the Colombia-US agreement is part of a US plan to invade Venezuela and seize control of its oil and gas reserves. Chavez also claims the hated gringos want to invade “Amazonia.”

Chavez has pledged to back up these crazed accusations in Bariloche with an alleged US intelligence document that will confirm the US is planning a military invasion of Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Chavez has ordered his Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro to “prepare for a permanent rupture” with Colombia. He plans to terminate bilateral trade worth $6.5 billion this year (with a $6 billion surplus favoring Colombia), and replace imports from Colombia with imports from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador – anyone but Colombia.

Chavez also has ordered an investigation of the sources of capital used by Colombian companies in Venezuela, to determine if any Colombian drug money has snuck into Venezuela. Chavez wears hypocrisy like a second skin.

Breaking trade ties with Colombia will hurt Colombian companies of course. But Venezuelan consumers and producers will get hammered much harder.

It takes a week to import anything from Colombia in normal times, and about two months to import anything from Brazil, Argentina or Uruguay. Imports from Ecuador take even longer.

Longer import distances/times = higher transportation/freight/insurance costs = higher retail prices = screwed Venezuelan consumer.

Chavez also is threatening that a military conflict could be imminent between Venezuela and Colombia. However, it’s doubtful that Chavez actually will order his Bolivarian Armed Forces to battle Colombian troops.

First, despite the new Russian weapons acquired since 2005 at a cost of $4.4 billion (including 100,000 AK-103/104 assault rifles), the Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) are in dreadful operational condition. Not a single combat unit in the country is at 50% preparedness.

The commanders of the FANB excel at kissing presidential butt, but they could not win a fight with the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.

Second, President Chavez doesn’t personally have the “cojones” to pick a fight with anyone. Chavez is a loudmouthed bullyboy who makes terrible threats from within the relative comfort of his multiple layers of security. But at heart, Chavez is a coward, and the people around him know it.

As a young cadet in the Military Academy, Chavez always flinched and backed away from his opponents in unarmed combat training exercises.

As a young Army officer already plotting to betray his elected democratic government, Chavez excelled at conspiracies but never participated in a single patrol, operation or anything that could threaten his personal safety.

We already mentioned how Chavez betrayed his comrades on 4 February 1992.

On 11 April, 2002, when the terrible magnitude of his criminal conspiracy to commit mass slaughter against unarmed civilians blew up in his face, President Chavez betrayed his closest comrades again.

While hard men like Grima Wormtongue urged unflinching armed resistance in Miraflores against the Army troops they feared were en route, Chavez ordered his senior generals, including then-CUFAN commander General Manuel Rosendo, to start negotiating his surrender immediately to the Army’s commander, General “Rapidito” (aka “Swifty”) Vasquez Velasco.

“You want me to immolate myself like that “pendejo” Allende?” Chavez is said to have shouted at Grima. “Yo no soy ningun pendejo.”

President Chavez always thinks of his own butt first, and always betrays his own people.

This is the great Bolivarian warrior who will seek in Bariloche on Friday, 28 August to rally Unasur against the Colombia-US base rights agreement.

Will Unasur’s leaders rise to his bait?

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador and President Evo Morales of Bolivia likely will back Chavez’s play.

Correa is allied strategically and politically with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It is public record that Correa’s government actively cooperates with the FARC, an international narco-terrorist group. Perhaps Uribe will raise this point in Bariloche.

Morales also has ties with the FARC, although not as notoriously as Correa.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her sidekick Nestor, a corrupt duo who are so deep in Chavez’s pocket they can never climb out, may support Chavez too.

Uruguay’s President Tabare Vasquez seems to be leaning against Colombia on the base rights agreement, and Paraguay’s Bishop-turned-President Fernando Lugo is a dyed-in-the-wool Liberation Theologist (i.e. perfect Latin American idiot).

Peru’s President Alan Garcia will support Colombia’s sovereign right to protect its own territory.

The wild cards could be Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Michelle Bachelet of Chile. But maybe we’re being too optimistic.

Collectively, Unasur’s mostly leftist presidents haven’t shown much intelligence, judgment, courage and political will when it comes to defending democracy, strengthening security in South America, and confronting Chavez.

Consider:

*President Chavez has an explicit strategic and political alliance with the FARC. This alliance between Chavez and a narco-terrorist group includes providing the group with cash, weapons, political support and advocacy for the alleged Bolivarian cause of the world’s largest cocaine trafficking enterprise. But no one in South America (except Colombia’s government) addresses the issue.

*The Chavez regime is actively working through indigenous groups in Peru to foster civil violence in an effort to spark a larger conflict that could overthrow that country’s elected government, but no one in South America (except Peru) addresses this issue either.

*The Chavez and Correa governments allow the FARC to base large numbers of militants in Venezuelan and Ecuadorean territory. This is public record, but no one in Unasur says anything.

*The Chavez regime allows at least nine senior FARC leaders, and several top ELN leaders, to reside permanently in Venezuela under official protection, with legal Venezuelan documents under assumed names. This is also public record, but not a peep of protest within Unasur.

*The Chavez regime intervened openly in Honduras in the months leading up to the legal ouster of former President Manuel (all hat, no cattle) Zelaya, in violation of Unasur rules (and also the norms of the Organizaton of American States in Washington, DC). However, all of Unasur’s presidents (except Colombia and Peru) embraced the grand lie that Zelaya was toppled by a military coup. Again, no one in Unasur upbraided Chavez.

*The Chavez regime has intervened often and repeatedly in the sovereign internal and electoral affairs of Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia, Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua, to name a few, but no one in Unasur (except Colombia) says “boo.”

*The Chavez regime has purchased $4.4 billion of Russian weapons since 2005, an issue which Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez intends to bring up at Unasur’s meeting in Bariloche.

Chavez says he will buy “‘battalions” of battle tanks and armored fighting vehicles when he visits Moscow in September – to defend Venezuela against the imminent US military invasion that will be launched from Colombian territory.

Colombia’s government and armed forces will not deliberately start a fight with Venezuela, regardless of how hard Chavez pushes to cause an “incident.”

But if a clash ever happens, it’s a safe bet that the Colombian troops will seriously kick Venezuelan butt.

Colombia has a seasoned professional army with years of combat experience, and is well equipped with everything an infantryman needs to operate effectively in battle.

No offense whatsoever is intended to the many active and retired professional Venezuelan soldiers who have befriended Caracas Gringo over the years, but the sad truth is that Chavez’s Bolivarian armed forces are not operationally ready for military conflict at any level.

In fact, this problem pre-dates Chavez’s election at the end of 1998 and has not been fixed despite the huge arms buys in recent years.

But maybe an armed confrontation in which Venezuelan troops suffer the worst is what Chavez is seeking so that he can play the role of aggrieved victim again, as he always does.

The discussion at Unasur will give some hint as to the great Bolivarian leader’s thinking.

As PMB notes, sagely, it’s always dangerous to under-estimate Chavez, but it’s also dangerous to over-estimate him.

About Caracas Gringo

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11 Responses to Bolivarians in Bariloche

  1. Juan L. says:

    After reading the above, I hope that Caracas Gringo has a good cover. Them are pretty harsh words (all true IMO) por El Presidente. It also has a slightly different tone, diction and phrasing than the in-depth financial analysis frequently posited here, suggesting that Caracas Gringo is indeed more than one hombre. I do wonder about how you (or you guys) source your material. You’re definately on it, and I read this stuff with a certain awe.

    The folks I talk to insist that cash-strapped Chavez is on the brink of making his second huge blunder – cutting off trade with Colombia. His first was to try and strongarm college rectors and educators. They will NOT cowtow to socialist “boards” comprised of various sodden rubes and varlets loyal to Hugo Chavez. The Ven. educators are very proud – the ones who are still here, that is. Add to that the trade/import fiasco that would follow nixing trade with Colombia and you’re looking at some serious repercussions.

    This could led to a meltdown, it is true.

    JL

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  2. Go-sho says:

    I find the analysis very good, and Chavez portrait as a coward bully very accurate. Colombia is our second strategic commercial ally (after the Imperio) so cutting ties with them is a very foolish thing to do. However, that probably is due to the weigh of the evidence that the very capable Colombian Intelligence Service has on Chavez and his cronies.

    We’ll see what the Chulasur has to say….

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  3. revbob22 says:

    So is Chavez counting on any “asymmetric” tactics to “win” the war with Eastasia, I mean Colombia? Is he counting on the FARC boyos to actually put some metal in his own commanders’ spines?

    I agree with you about this being a “perro que ladra, no muerde” kinda buffoon.

    However, OTOH, perhaps Chavez is thinking that a small war would do wonders to unite Venezuelans around him again, and allow him to install some serious suspension of whatever “liberties” are left for an undefined period of his choosing (forever).

    What say you, Caracas Gringo? Make any sense?

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  4. Juan L. says:

    The topic of Venezuela, or any Latin America country, conducting a coherent “war” against any neighboring country, is patently absurd, especially if you’re privy to prevailing intelligence.

    As previously mentioned, Latino “armies” are strictly domestic police forces at best, and political terrorist mobs at worst. They do not fight armed conflicts with other countries, though they might battle in hit and miss “revolutionary” campaigns within their own borders. These can get ugly, evidenced by the drawn out epics in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Colombia.

    It is highly doubtful that any Latino country has a trained fighting force that can engage in a sustained armed conflict in another country. They have the uniforms and the arms, though.

    A interesting point is that Chavez can amass all of these new arms only so long before he’ll want to use them. Or have the military use them. The question is – how might he use them and where? What’s he going to do, start bombing US military bases in Colombia?

    Just how crazy is he, and just how far will the military go along with any preposterous “strike” order coming from El Presiente? What’s in it for the military? Because that’s typically the question with Venezuelan generals, the smart money says we’ll never see any kind of offensive military shenanagas from the Venezuelan armed forces.

    JL

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  5. revbob22 says:

    Juan, I agree with your comments in general, except I did not posit that this would be a “coherent” war. There is nothing coherent in Mr. Chavez’ actions of late regarding Colombia, to begin with.

    I am not privy to any intelligence of a military nature, perhaps you are better informed and may want to illuminate us further.

    Other than the explanation that he has purchased what, like 4 Billion US$ worth of military equipment with all the attendant “guisos”, because he likes his toys: what other explanation is there? Modernizing? Changing suppliers?

    It’s obvious to me that these weapons systems are there for a reason other than self defense. I wouldn’t put it past him to start a limited war(yes, that is an oxymoron), or “adventure” or whatever you want to call it in order to use it as an excuse for more internal monkey jobs. But then again, I am not privy to anything (which is why I read this blog), and I may just be dreaming, too. Pero Chavez es como “mono con hojilla”, muy a menudo.

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  6. Martin says:

    First, I’m not holding my breath for any dramatic changes to happen at this so-called summit. There’s no Juan Carlos there to tell Thugo to shut his trap, and Lula and Bachelet are just too compromised to make a difference. I understand, though, that Alain Garcia has at least come through with a bit of subtle sarcasm, which I suppose is the most we can expect.
    As for an invasion, who honestly knows? It would be a terrible mistake, of course, a Falklands-like adventure that would probably end up with the same result as the latter. Doubtless Ecuador would participate also – indeed Chavez would probably use them as a cover to instigate it – but I don’t think Colombia would have any difficulty dealing with two fronts simultaneously. The only real worry I’d have would be with the Obama administration, which is so woefully uninformed and ill-prepared in this region that it might just not even know how to react. Of course it should – and previous administrations would – come in on the side of Colombia, even militarily, if necessary. But would that actually happen?
    Maybe instead Peru would oblige for them by invading Ecuador from the west!
    Pure speculation, of course, and hope to God that nothing of the sort happens. But with Chavez apparently getting more unhinged, agitated and aggressive by the day, you never know what might happen. I know something about that, at least, since I work in mental health.

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  7. seal says:

    Bueno, amanecio y vimos.

    The wild card of Lula payed its hand and averted a breakdown in relations between the narcoregime and Colombia. But the story does not end here. Chavez knows he’s trapped in a dead end street, although he still has the money to bulldoze his way out. But, his popularity continues a spiral dive. A nice little war with Colombia would “do him good”, or so he thinks, ill advised by some of his more radical factions. We all agree that such military aventura would only bring shame and defeat to the Bolivarian armed forces. But what does Chavez care? his only worry is to advance his socialist/comunist agenda, and satisfy his inflated ego, not the well-being of his people.

    That, he has amply demonstrated. Y perro que come manteca, mete la lengua en tapara.

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  8. Juan L. says:

    When I mentioned the word “coherent” military campaign I meant an on-going, coordinated, offensive attack involving air power, tanks, and ground warfare. In other words, an actual invasion and occupancy – an actual war, that is being found in order for one side to “win.” There is no intelligence remotely suggesting that ANY South American military has the wherewithal to carry this out.

    So, barring an actual invasion, and taking account of Chavez’s escalating desire to stir the pot and use some of the gazillion dollars worth of war toys he’s recently purchased, what are the options?

    Really, the only option is a quick cross boarder incursion, or possibly an air strike. But strike what, exactly? A cement factory? A school or restaurant? A military encampment? And what General is going to give the order, and why? The deeper you probe this subjectg the more remote and absurd it seems – but perhaps no more absurd than blocking trade with Columbia in the first place.

    One thing you can be sure of: As we read these words, dozens of folks are monitoring real time satelite images of all activity within fifty miles of the Columbian border. Right now you couldn’t get a gallo across the border without Langly knowing about it an hour in advance. Obama might not have much of a strategy per Chavez or the entire region – yet. But folks are keepijng their eyes open in ways you can’t imagine.

    JL

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  9. GWEH says:

    did you know that one of the Disip commanders who negotiated armed surrender of rebel troops in Ccs was Otoniel Guevara? they also did CQ combat and recovery of weapons caches. The other brother was also involved in these ops. Just a little factoid….

    Like

  10. GWEH says:

    have you read “los golpes de estado en venezuela desde castro hasta caldera”? the best book on 4F

    Like

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