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Hugo Chavez’s Praetorian Guards
Posted By Ray Walser On November 12, 2010 @ 3:00 pm In American Leadership | 4 Comments
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.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/11/12/hugo-chavezs-praetorian-guards/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.foundry.org/wp-content/uploads/Henry-Rangel-Silva.jpg
 Henry Rangel Silva: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-12/chavez-promotes-venezuela-general-criticized-for-threat-against-opposition.html
 an interview: http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/Noticias/En-Audio--La-declaracion-de-Rangel-Silva-a-UN.aspx
 hypothesis of an elected: http://justf.org/blog/2010/11/10/venezuelan-general-opposition-government-not-going-be-accepted?utm_source=feedbur
 was named: http://www.ustreas.gov/press/releases/hp1132.htm
 rapid deterioration of democratic legitimacy: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/11/1919823/region-ignoring-venezuela-coup.html
 Walid Makled: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-d-hirst/walid-makled-colombias-sa_b_779931.html
 New York indictment: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/November10/makledwalidindictmentpr.pdf
 decide whether to send Makled: http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=376506&CategoryId=13303
 Felipe Acosta Carles: http://www.laverdad.com/detnotic.php?CodNotic=45411
 Tareck El Aissami: http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=376999&CategoryId=10717
 General Néstor Reverón: http://www.american.com/archive/2010/november/chavez-the-cocaine-capo
 certainly impacts morale: http://lugar.senate.gov/issues/foreign/lac/venezuela/pdf/LugarPalmerQFR.pdf
 narco-state: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09806.pdf
 state sponsor of terror: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/01/state-sponsors-of-terrorism-time-to-add-venezuela-to-the-list?query=St
 tyrant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrant
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