barbaric violation of basic legal norms revealed
by British detainees lately released from Guantanamo
is emblematic of US foreign policy root and branch.
Open or covert illegal aggression has always been
a principal tool of US foreign policy. The energy
needs of the US and its allies will dictate the
next likely savage intervention - in Venezuela.
is an obstacle to the full implementation of US
plans for the region. Those plans require control
of extraction and transport of Latin America's energy
resources and on destroying the region's food sovereignty.
Plan Colombia, Plan Puebla Panama and the "free
trade" corporate welfare scams the US seeks
to impose on the region are the main policy instruments
to achieve those goals. Multinational European corporations
are willing collaborators.
is certainly not mere conicidence that the US now
has military bases in the Dutch Antilles - Curaçao
and Aruba. Like the other huge oil companies including
British Petroleum and the United States oil giants,
the Anglo Dutch oil multinational Shell would love
a free hand in a privatized Venezuelan oil industry.
It goes without saying that European Union foreign
policy prioritises European energy needs. This fact
probably does much to explain why European mainstream
media resolutely refuse to report the facts of political
and economic events in the country,
interview by writer Heinz Dieterich with the head
of the Venezuelan armed forces gives an interesting
insider's view into the latest bout of destabilisation
in Venezuela- which many people there regard as
a yet another externally orchestrated attempt to
overthrow the democratically elected President Hugo
of late February
Are the current disturbances a real threat to the
stability of the government or the State or are
To start with I ought to say that resorting to violence
is deplorable when participative constitutional
democratic mechanisms exist. We're dealing with
an irrational use of violence unsupported by a genuine
ideal. I am convinced this violence only represents
a soldier and a follower of the Tao Te Ching of
Lao Tze, I know one should never undervalue an adversary
because if we undervalue an opponent we lose our
greatest asset and strength which is love. I believe
that love, civic awareness and participatory awakening
prevail throughout a wide segment of the people.
In any case , those who reject this reality and
believe that with the help of the news media they
can try and forge the basis for a different view
are just reacting to the loss of perks and privileges.
I think you can't underestimate the extremists who
have fomented the recourse to violent insurrectionism,
baseless as it is as I have already said, but neither
should one exaggerate their importance. The government
and the authorities generally are not going to make
the mistake of magnifying the situation and offering
them the excuses they unfortunately seek, namely,
to cause death and destruction so as to sustain
this media campaign not just for internal consumption
but internationally too.
coup in Haiti
Are there any parallels to be drawn between what
happened in Haiti and what's happening in Venezuela?
Well, some foreign elements, in my view, in an irresponsible
way and ignoring the self-determination of the Haitian
people, have tried to take advantage of the extreme
circumstances of poverty that country has suffered
so as to advance their own interests instead of
seeking with other countries to improve conditions
in the island.
it seems to me that an attempt is being made to
establish a pattern, trying to present a glass showcase
to the world to demonstrate that this could extend
to other countries and in particular to our country.
Because we have seen officials of the State Department
and their local ventriloquists' dummies repeating
that we should take a good look at Haiti because
it could happen here.
a few of these ventriloquists' dummies say this
with such conviction that it seems they had already
been given the script of what to say, as if already
certain that this is what they are ready to do,
make such things happen here in our country.
President Chavez revealed on Sunday that a message
had been intercepted mentioning plans to locate
US navy ships off the coast of Venezuela in the
near future. Is there a real danger of beliigerent
I have to say this is a delicate matter because
any opinion I offer, especially given my seniority
in the Armed Forces, has a lot of weight.
to deal with the question, let's look at the facts
of the April 2002 coup d'état. There is irrefutable
and categorical evidence that there were warships
and military airplanes in Venezuelan territorial
waters, some as close as ten miles off shore in
the area called Falcón near the north of
the Paraguaná peninsula,
further off at Curaçao and Bonaire there
are countries that have military bases (trans. US
and Holland) As a military person, I think, speaking
in my personal capacity that this type of action
could happen, using Plan Colombia instrumentally
to try and generate a situation of conflict with
the Republic of Colombia which might serve to excuse
Are sections of the Colombian armed forces ready
to participate in this type of project from Washington?
I couldn't say, because I can't pretend to speak
for the armed forces of Colombia. But what is worrying
is that Colombia has just acquired AMX-30 battle
tanks from Spain.
has to reduce its excess of military vehicles, which
according to NATO plans ought to number no more
than 300. What's known is that Spain intends to
keep its German "Leopard" tanks and obtain
Italian "Centaur" vehicles. One of the
conditions necessary to be able to do that is to
dispose of or somehow unload their M-60s which are
very heavy, above all for a theatre of operations
such as ours and also the AMX-30s which are also
very heavy for our kind of terrain.
news media suggest that these battle systems are
to combat drugs trafficking. Well, I'm just an infantry
parachutist, but I can say I have plenty of experience
- for example I have led the 4th Armoured Division
- and this pretext really has our attention. The
use of these AMX-30s is very limited, above all
in Colombia's topography. And we really ought to
bear in mind very much that this deepens the military
imbalance and asymmetry between the Republic of
Colombia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
We understand for example that the purchases are
not just limited to this one from Spain but also
include the acquisition of "Dragon" reconnaissance
we have to keep matters under constant review and
hope based on the fraternal links that unite us
historically to the Republic of Colombia that no
sectors in that neighbouring country harbour the
intention of converting it into a battering ram
to threaten Venezuela.
Has the Colombian purchase of tanks obliged Venezuela
to increase its military presence on the frontier?
We have a permanent deployment on the frontier.
Venezuela has always maintained an active presence
on that frontier. We are aware of the spiral of
violence that has afflicted our sister people Colombia
for more than 50 years and we hope they can escape
But too, as a sovereign State, Venezuela has the
right to demand that the Republic of Colombia takes
action so that Venezuela does not suffer the consequences
of the widespread violence along that strip of frontier,
judged to be the most active in Latin America.
have a land frontier of about 2300km with more than
60 per cent, which is not always well marked, open
to free transit and where there is a permanent flow
point is that this generalized violence has generated
massive population displacements, a phenomenon which
can be used as a trojan horse to justify an intervention
in Venezuela through a peacekeeping force.
if by any chance this were to be put forward as
a pretext by some international organization such
as the United Nations (UN) or the Organization of
American States (OAS), it would then be possible
to argue the need to put peacekeepers into the area
- we'd have to see just how much it really was a
force intended to keep the peace. And logic indicates
that one of the demands would be to put them on
Venezuelan territory, not that of Colombia.
follows because, if you analyse the Colombian situation,
and I do so with total respect, one sees there are
two States, or at least more than one State. You
might say there is a State based in Santa Fé
de Bogotá and another that has its seat in
San Vicente del Caguán (trans. The FARC were
based here during the peace process. Recently, the
city has been under paramiltary and army control).
the news media we have seen meetings with Presidents
or government representatives of the Republic of
Colombia and you can observe that the leaders and
military chiefs of the groups promoting violence
receive the Colombian head of State with a military
parade and all the pomp and protocol used by one
head of State to receive another.
There has been a series of armed attacks by Colombian
paramilitaries on Venezuelan territory. How can
these attacks be avoided?
There is a permanent flow of Colombian nationals
into our territory and they can disguise themselves
but often we are struck by the fact that when the
Colombian armed forces mobilise in an area adjacent
to our frontier, those movements coincide with some
action or other by the forces often described as
involvement in the April 2000 coup
The President has said that US military helicopters
landed at the Maiquetalia airport near Caracas during
the April 2002 coup d'état.
Some military professionals, mostly from our military
aviation forces working in tactical air control
centres at the Simon Bolivar International airport
at Caracas, have alleged they detected those airplanes.
some cities we combine civilian airport use with
military bases. This double usage saves constuction
costs and also guarantees military security in any
situation that merits deployment.
that basis, the presence of US Black Hawk helicopters
has been confirmed on April 11th, 12th and 13th
during the coup d'état at the Luis del Valle
Garcia base which shares a runway with the Barcelona
airport here in the state of Anzoátegui
So there's still a lot to be revealed concerning
the coup d'état?
Really, as I pointed out at the start, I have be
very careful what I say because my role as a soldier
on active service demands that I show obedience,
subordination and discipline. And this matter touches
or could touch on some areas of Venezuelan foreign
policy which is the express prerogative of the President
of the Republic
he has already indicated publicly that there is
no reliable explanation in this case nor in that
of the United States warships off the coast of the
Paraguaná peninsula that I mentioned earlier.
are videos of a US radar on the Paraguaná
peninsula that we were operating under a treaty
agreement, where you can observe a ship entering
Venezuelan territorial waters and it moors about
ten miles off the Venezuelan coast. And from that
ship you can note flight aspects and those flights
indicate that they were helicopters which leads
us to suppose that the ship was a helicopter carrier.
can determine that, because every ship and naval
airplane has characteristics called mode and aspect
which are like an identifying sign for that ship
or airplane. According to the explanations given
to me by experts there is a classification into
three groups. The first group of mode and aspect
is normally assigned to civil ships and planes and
the second and third to military ships and planes.
the modes and aspects that were given to this ship
and these planes were of the second and third groups.
Furthermore, I was told that this radar cannot simulate.
What the screen showed was what was really happening
at the time.
Passing on to the internal situation. The subversive
movement is using snipers as well as more traditional
methods like demonstrations burning tyres. What
is known about these snipers? Are they professionals
with special equipment?
In the current goings-on there are some similarities
with events that have happened before in our country
and particularly with patterns used during the coup
d'état of April 2002. Today I had a report
from the commander of the 4th Armoured Division
that detected the presence of snipers in a building
in the environs of the Paramacay Fort in Valencia.
armoured vehicle - not a tank I should clarify -
was used to investigate the situation. It was a
German-made armoured car which was just right for
getting close to the building from which the sniper
fire was coming. And that vehicle had bullet marks
on its glass screens and on its turret that indicate
projectiles of 7.62mm calibre or of a similar long
range weapon normally used by snipers.
Can anyone use that type of weapon or does it require
No, normally, at least in the military sphere, sniper
training is given to those professionals who have
special aptitude and have high accuracy, say, in
March 5th and March 7th 2004
Habla el Comandante del Ejército Venezolano,
General Raúl Baduel
Toni Solo is an activist based in Central America.