• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Hugo Chavez's Praetorian Guards

    Hugo Chávez took another bold step in his campaign to consolidate authoritarian control over the Venezuelan people when he promoted Gen. Henry Rangel Silva to the rank of General-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Silva is in the limelight because in an interview this week regarding the military and the 2012 presidential elections, Silva declared:

    The hypothesis of an elected [opposition] government is hard to swallow, it would mean selling the country, and that is not going to be accepted, not by the armed forces and much less by the people.

    Message: Beware, if the elections do not go our way; the Army is prepared to step in.

    Gen. Silva is a Chávez loyalist and political general whose rise is connected to loyalty rather than merit or professionalism. For years Silva oversaw Chávez’s intelligence agency (DISIP), a shadowy body closely linked to the Cuban security apparatus. In September 2008, Silva was named along with two other senior officials as a key link between Colombia’s narco-terrorists FARC and the drug trade. The U.S. action only led Chávez to promote Silva to positions of higher visibility. Chávez’s promotion of Silva in the aftermath of an unacceptable anti-democratic outburst is clear indication of the rapid deterioration of democratic legitimacy in Venezuela.

    Chávez is also locked in a contest with the U.S. for the extradition of a major Venezuelan drug trafficker, Walid Makled. The Venezuelan was arrested in August in Colombia and is charged in a New York indictment with organizing multi-ton shipments of cocaine to the U.S. Colombia must now decide whether to send Makled to Venezuela, where he will surely be silenced, or the U.S.

    While incarcerated in Colombia, Makled has pointed to senior officials in the Chávez regime deeply involved in drug complicity and pay-offs. The list reads like a “Who’s Who” of the top military/security brass. It includes General Silva; Gen. Luis Felipe Acosta Carles, a military regional chief in Carabobo; Minister of Justice and Interior Tareck El Aissami and his brother; the chief of Venezuelan military intelligence, Gen. Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios; General Luis Mota, Comandante of the Armed Forces; and General Néstor Reverón, chief of Venezuela’s Anti-Narcotics Police. Rampant corruption in the Venezuelan military certainly impacts morale and discipline, a point made last summer during Senate hearings for the next U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. It also again raises the question: Is Venezuela a narco-state, a state sponsor of terror or both?

    While claiming to be a legitimate, elected president, Chávez is inclined to govern erratically and irresponsibly and in an imperial manner worthy of a classical tyrant. Chávez has begun to realize that his ultimate safeguard rests neither in responsible stewardship nor the fickle support of the people who will tire of misgovernment and criminality but with a thuggish band of Praetorian Guards who—Chávez dangerously believes—will protect him from his enemies and the people.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Hugo Chavez's Praetorian Guards

    1. Ross Wild, ONT says:

      Just a couple of things: maybe Chávez should sign and Executive Order like the EO13528 signed by Obama -YES! that one that subverts The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878- and let the country and the people in military's hands with any excuse from pandemia to economic crisis. Of course you never wrote about it, it's not a good thing for the super-democratic country image.

      And two: "Colombia must now decide whether to send Makled to Venezuela, where he will surely be silenced, or the U.S." – I have to complete this one: to the U.S. … where he will be received like a hero and after talk really bad about Chávez he will be free to go and shopping with Posada Carriles!

    2. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      Go ahead Hugo, keep trusting your military. When they see you are to weak to govern, they will strike you down.

    3. Bruce W. Blake says:

      Sad in that the article reveals yet another dark aspect of the Chavez agenda. Do not look for any pressure from the Obama administration; they are comrades' in arms at least insofar as government control and command are concerned. Chavez gives ever citizen 500.00 pesos per month and they vote for their man! Obama would like to create the same workers paradise here.

    4. Denise, Utah says:

      The workers in the Chavez utopia pretend to work because the government pretends to pay them. Socialism fails EVERY time. When are our politicians going to get it?

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×