VENEZUELAN, NICARAGUAN, AND BOLIVIAN ARMED FORCES DEFINE THEIR EXISTENCE
Carlos Sánchez Berzain*
At a crucial time for the recovery of democracy and the end of Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, and Bolivian dictatorships, the question is “if the Armed Forces owe obedience to the Constitution or the regime”. In democracy the answer is very easy due to the existence of the “Rule of Law”, but dictatorships build their military apparatus so that the Armed Forces are solely accountable to the dictator, as in the Cuban model. This is why the Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, and Bolivian Armed Forces define their existence, since they are not part of the process of liberation against dictatorships, the people know they will not be needed.
What for, to have an institution whose objective is the defense of the homeland, of national integrity, of security and service for the people whom they are part of, if when they have to fulfill their role, they do not or worse yet, they support, serve and become a part of the people’s oppressor, the criminal system that subjugates the sovereign people?
Cuba’s Castroist dictatorship’s expansion in the Americas, with the rescue done by Hugo Chavez -embezzling Venezuela’s wealth and creating 21st Century Socialism or the Castroist Chavist doctrine- has setup and controls the narco-dictatorial regimes of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, and Evo Morales in Bolivia. The sustainment of these de-facto regimes needs the use of force, reason why it is indispensable to control the Armed Forces, something they have accomplished -up to now- through a misunderstood subordination, corruption, and terror, besides the conformation of irregular and paramilitary armed groups.
It is clearly evident that Venezuela has corrupt military echelons that are part of the regime. The actions and decisions of Padrino Lopez and his surroundings are of a criminal group and not military. They have turned the nation’s defense into a mafia that has been so identified by sanctions from the United States, the European Union, the Group of Lima, the OAS, and are in the cross-hairs of counter-narcotics institutions and the Palermo Convention against Organized Crime. They are not out of reach of The Hague either, for crimes against humanity that include the assassination of colleagues who were tortured and fired upon for abiding by their oath and obligation to defend the nation, the homeland. Hundreds of military imprisoned and tortured, accused of conspiring against the regime, are proof the military and the dictatorship’s criminal nature.
Nicaragua is a show of cowardice on parade of who, as military, should be an example of courage. Shameful to see the Chief of Staff of the Nicaraguan Armed Forces “declaring himself as neutral” and not defending the people who endure massacres, torture, and crime that Daniel Ortega and his Vice-President and wife Rosario Murillo commit daily. Cowardice, hypocrisy and alibis, because the people accuse the Nicaraguan military for placing soldiers as masked armed paramilitary to massacre. The Nicaraguan military command echelons are committing falsehood, dereliction of duty, and are helping the dictatorship to remain in power. Either they react, or fade into irrelevancy, because important voices such as the former Minister of Defense, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro’s have already suggested a post Castroist Chavist Nicaragua without the Armed Forces, and Costa Rica is a good example.
Bolivia, in over 12 years of Evo Morales’ dictatorship, has created servile and corrupt command echelons. The dictatorship has taken the task of violating the merit system for promotions in rank, for naming Commanders who are not qualified and who otherwise would never have deserved to be assigned to those positions in a democracy. Corruption is the norm, with rewards for the servile Commanders for their illicit enrichment with positions in Customs Enforcement, embassies, and state-owned enterprises. Cocaine’s trafficking to Venezuela in aircraft and with Bolivian military personnel has been exposed by journalist Leonardo Coutinho. The military’s servility has even composed a military march to honor the coca grower dictator, placing obsequious lyrics onto a German classical rhythm. The time is coming for the Bolivian military to take a stance and distance itself from the Venezuelans and Nicaraguans. Bolivian people are hopeful that they will live up to be “the Nation’s Armed Forces” and not the dictatorship’s.
This is only an observation of the objective reality, the social topography. Change is irreversible. Whether this comes about with or without the Armed Forces simply depends on what the military will do, making a choice between crime and the institutional destruction or the fulfillment of their sworn duty.
Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy*.
Translated from Spanish by; Edgar L. Terrazas, member of the American Translators’ Association, ATA # 234680.