Cliver, Henry and “El Pollo” are the president’s hammers.
General Cliver Alcala, commander of the IV Armored Infantry Division based in Valencia, reputedly the general closest personally to President Hugo Chavez nowadays.
General Henry Rangel Silva, new Defense Minister and also still commander of the Joint Strategic Operational Command.
General Hugo “El Pollo” Carvajal, who reportedly will be appointed soon as the Chavez regime’s new Intelligence Czar.
This trio was designated as drug kingpins by the US Treasury Department for actively cooperating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) in narcotics and arms trafficking.
President Chavez has responded to the US government’s actions against his kingpin generals by promoting them to possibly the most powerful commands in the Army.
Chavez is confident that Washington won’t do anything except sputter in outrage.
Three Army generals with everything to lose, including their freedom and even their lives – if President Chavez steps down from power on any terms other than the ones he dictates.
Three powerful kingpins at the peak of a very substantial number of officers, including over 700 in civilian government posts, and over twice that many on active duty, with a huge self-interest in keeping Chavez in power, and beyond that perpetuating “the revolution” (i.e. los negocios) after the president perishes.
The president’s decree this week reinstating to active service, with full back pay and benefits and, possibly, higher ranks all the way up to general, could soon swell their ranks even further.
Don’t be surprised if National Assembly president Diosdado publicly dons an Army uniform any day now; the only question being: Will Diosdado wear the rank of Colonel, or instead General?
It’s a pertinent question, given that the officers ascending to general and admiral rank in 2012 are the last Military Academy class that President Hugo Chavez has personal, direct contact with since his days as an academy instructor.
President Chavez is militarizing his regime in its final year before the 7 October 2012 presidential elections.
Chavez knows he is walking on the road of no return. He isn’t cured, despite all his assurances of being cancer-free. How can I say this with any certainty? Nothing is certain in cancer.
However, if Chavez truly had been cured of cancer, the regime would have every motive to broadcast the good news to reinforce his popular legend as an invincible leader: three times elected, coup survivor, cancer survivor…. So the lack of any news at all, even from this secretive regime, means that the prognosis must be very bad.
But the civilian democratic opposition is terribly mistaken if it assumes that immediately après Chavez Venezuela will be ruled by a civilian government aligned with democratic coalitions like the MUD.
The president’s kingpins know that they will lose everything if opposition civilians take power.
The generals, and the many hundreds more officers with their thumbs in every corrupt “negocio” that one can possibly imagine under the umbrealla of the Bolivarian revolution, don’t support the Marxist ideology and vision embraced by President Chavez. However, they need Chavez as much as Chavez needs them. It’s a Faustian alliance, to be sure.
Whether or not Chavez has come to terms with his own future is unknown. He expected to rule forever and a day, but malignant carcinomas growing riotously inside the body have a way of shortening one’s dreams and expectations. However, Chavez is determined to go out with his boots on.
He also knows that whatever happens when the final curtain comes down, Venezuela’s next government will be military, not civilian, at least in the early post-revolution years.
Chavez also expects his kingpins to enforce the foreordained outcome of this presidential election year. First, Chavez will be re-elected even if he loses the popular vote by a landslide. Second, these gangsters aren’t giving up power, no matter what.
President Chavez made that clear on 4 February, officially commemorated as the 20th anniversary since the coup in 1992 launched the Bolivarian Revolution and the beginning of Venezuela’s second independence movement.
Does the opposition understand what’s coming down on Venezuela before the end of 2012? I suspect not.