I first blogged about General Henry Rangel Silva, General Hugo Carvajal and former Interior & Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin in August and September 2009. Here and here are two posts from that time.
Less than a year later, this deadly trio of gangsters is more entrenched than ever at the top of the Bolivarian revolution, where their primary mission is to enforce the will of President Hugo Chavez.
President Chavez just appointed Army Major General Rangel Silva as the new Strategic Operational Commander of the Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela (FAN).
Rangel Silva now has direct command authority over all strategic and tactical operations undertaken by any branch of the FAN.
In the formal chain-of-command, Rangel Silva is now the FAN’s strategic and tactical second-in-command, after President Chavez.
General Rangel Silva also is one of the top gangsters and enforcers of the Chavez regime.
Rangel Silva was the head of the Interior & Justice Ministry’s intelligence & counter-intelligence service (Disip) from 2005-2009.
In September 2008 the US Treasury Department designated Rangel Silva as a lower-tier kingpin “for materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a narco-terrorist organization.”
But Rangel Silva did not leave Disip until 2009 after he was implicated directly by Colombia’s military intelligence service in a smuggling scheme that delivered to the FARC at least two Swedish-made portable rockets owned by Venezuela’s Army.
However, Rangel Silva was too valuable to Chavez to be put out to pasture. Rangel Silva is very tight with the FARC, and always will do anything that the president asks, without exception or question.
Chavez appointed Rangel Silva commander of the FAN’s Guayana strategic region, which shares borders with Colombia, Brazil and Guyana.
In that capacity, Rangel Silva escaped the potential political heat in Caracas for a year (nothing happened). He oversaw the FAN’s strategy and operations in the largest expanse of unguarded territory in Venezuela, and the richest in terms of non-oil resources like gold, diamonds, uranium, bauxite and other minerals.
When Rangel Silva left Disip, it was rechristened as the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) and Colonel Miguel Rodriguez Torres was named head of the new Sebin. Rodriguez Torres was just promoted to brigadier general and reconfirmed as Sebin’s director.
Rodriguez Torres is a very close and trusted associate of former Interior & Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, who like Rangel Silva also was designated a kingpin by the US Treasury in September 2008 for materially cooperating with the FARC.
Rodriguez Chacin is President Chavez’s longtime personal liaison to the FARC’s top leaders. Rodriguez Chacin has served in this role for 16 years, since Chavez first sat down with FARC leaders in northeastern Colombia in 1994 to negotiate the broad outlines of an enduring strategic alliance that allows FARC leaders and fighters to operate from Venezuelan territory since he became president in 1999.
But Rodriguez Chacin’s personal ties to the FARC date from the early 1980s when he operated in Apure state with a government multi-agency counterinsurgency task force called Cejap.
General Hugo Carvajal, the third senior Venezuelan intelligence official designated as a material collaborator of the FARC in September 2008, apparently didn’t get a big promotion like his associate Rangel Silva. But “El Pollo” Carvajal remains in charge of the Defense Ministry’s intelligence division (DGIM).
Carvajal is very tight with the FARC and also the National Liberation Army (ELN).
But the growing Cuban influence in Venezuela’s defense ministry where all important decisions are now made by a Cuban general suggests two things:
One, Carvajal will be reined in by Havana and controlled more tightly to prevent new scandals implicating Bolivarian intelligence and military personnel with international narco-terrorist groups.
Or, two, Carvajal is working more closely now with both the FARC and Cuban military intelligence. Havana’s strategic interests include strengthening the Cuban regime’s grip on Venezuela and continuing to stoke conflict in Colombia.