President Hugo Chavez appears to be trying to provoke the government of Colombia into a potentially violent confrontation which Chavez cannot possibly win, and which Colombia’s government is striving to avoid at all costs.
But with Chavez, appearances are always deceiving.
President Chavez and his gangster cronies certainly are determined to destabilize Colombia’s democracy.
But the Chavez regime’s increasingly shrill accusations that Colombia is seeking to destabilize the border with Venezuela are baloney.
Chavez’s real objective is to create conditions of violence and instability that will force Tachira Governor Cesar Perez Vivas to abandon the office he won in democratic elections, and join other exiled democratic opposition leaders like Zulia’s Manuel Rosales in Peru.
President Chavez telegraphed his intentions less than a day ago, warning on national television that Governor Perez Vivas should pack his bags and depart for Lima quickly.
Admiral Iván Carratú, former director of the Instituto de Altos Estudios para la Defensa Nacional and former commander of the Presidential Guard (Casa Militar) during the second administration of former President Carlos Andres Perez (1989-93), predicts that President Chavez soon will designate Tachira a “zone of conflict.”
Under the Armed Forces Organic Law reformed in October by the National Assembly, President Chavez can dump all elected public officials in a given area by declaring it a zone of conflict, which empowers him to replace elected civilian officials with military commanders.
Placing Tachira under military command will further Chavez’s goal of abusing/ignoring the rule of law to politically persecute/prosecute elected opposition leaders.
One by one, Chavez is illegally toppling the opposition leaders who won municipal and state elections just two years ago. The first to go down, and into exile, was Manuel Rosales. It’s likely that Perez Vivas will join him soon.
But placing Tachira under military command will not make the state safer or more secure. If anything, appointing military officers to run local and state governments in Tachira will significantly expand the opportunities for these military officers to enrich themselves via corruption.
It’s a fact that everywhere that President Chavez has appointed a military officer to fill a government post during the past 11 years, the results invariably, and almost always, have included extraordinarily incompetent management, nepotism, theft and corruption.
It won’t be any different if Chavez places Tachira’s state and local governments under complete military control. If anything, the chaos and violence on Tachira’s border with Colombia will get much worse.
Any military officers appointed by Chavez to strategic border command posts, especially in “zones of conflict,” certainly will be vetted ideologically for the job. This means that they will maintain friendly relations with the FARC, ELN, FBL and other irregular groups, but they will neutralize the state’s civilian police forces. It also means that the military commanders appointed to govern Tachira will support PSUV political activities in Tachira, but will actively disrupt/repress opposition political activities.
The opportunities for “negocios” will be endless for military officers in command of Tachira’s state government and its local governments. The standard commission charged by the military mafia running practically everything in the Chavez regime today is 15%, upfront and in cash.**
But Tachira will remain unsafe, dangerous and lethal for civilians on both sides of the border. The FARC, ELN and FBL will continue to operate freely in Tachira, kidnapping and extorting Venezuelan civilians. The Chavez regime will blame Colombian paramilitaries for these crimes, but will never offer proof, and the occasional “paracos” arrested by Venezuelan forces likely will be ordinary criminals and/or convenient cannon fodder.
**Of course, higher-ups like Public Works and Housing Minister Diosdado Cabello and his longtime partner, Science and technology Minister Jesse Chacon, get even higher fees. For example, the turnkey contracts worth over $4 billion that were awarded only a few months ago without any bidding to build two thermal power generation plants awarded a few months ago reportedly were substantially over-priced. Caracas Chronicles has an eye-opening analysis of the power plant scam. The apparent 39% “sobreprecio” is mostly commissions payable in Venezuela and Spain.