¿Militarización de la sociedad? / Oswaldo Barreto

Militarization of Society?

There are so many signs of President Chávez’s desire to militarize society that it’s no longer a question of anyone doubting him, but rather of investigating the seriousness or viability of such a singular undertaking and what sense it might make. Chávez—one hears this everywhere—doesn’t miss an occasion to try and force into the heads of all Venezuelans that we are obliged to prepare ourselves, without any second thoughts, for a war against the United States, the imperialist enemy that will end up fatally invading us. It’s true that this requirement, instead of being expressed in those terms, is dressed up in more generic forms: “asymmetric warfare,” “armed defense of our sovereignty,” etc., etc. But despite those rhetorical ambiguities, something emerges from his war-like preaching with plenty of evidence: the President no longer boasts about the base of his support as a leader being those two pillars recommended to him by Norberto Ceresole: the masses and the army.

Let’s remember, by the way, the recipe formulated by his recently-departed, eccentric teacher in Ejército y política nacionalista (Buenos Aires, 1968) [Army and Nationalist Politics]. Loaded with nostalgia for the work that J.D. Perón couldn’t finish in Argentina, Ceresole sustained that “The basic act for the achievement of the National Revolution would consist of clearing any obstacles for the masses on the road to power. That is precisely the historical work of the Army.”

Chávez, the only one of his students to have become a head of state, that we know of, persists in speaking about revolution, but he no longer assigns that historical role to the army. He no longer situates the Armed Forces of the Nation in the historical role of intermediary between his will and the masses. Now it will be the masses themselves, previously armed and trained for war, who will be in charge of accomplishing that revolution. The Bolivarian revolution, of course, whose prelude we are now living, since the real first stage will begin when the machine guns and cannons sound in the hands of the masses.

And this is not just a case of one of Chávez’s free-form speculations about volunteerism, nor of mere signs of his willingness to militarize Venezuelan society. This is clearly shown by that desire, which we commented on yesterday in our column titled “The Bureaucrat Soldier,” to transform the great majority of State employees into actual soldiers, as well as by the even more significant program destined to involve all of Venezuelan society in the creation of a gigantic Military Reserves. The privileged and faithful spokesman of Chávez’s daily designs, the Argenpress news agency, serenely talks to us about this latest monstrous metamorphosis of all Venezuelans into soldiers.

Yesterday, in a dispatch entitled "Chávez's Military Class is of Another Type," this condensation of the huge project is presented to us: "On 13 April 2005 the Venezuelan Military Reserve Commando was activated, from where the unification of the body that will have 'more than 2 million Venezuelans' (sic with quotation marks and all) advances, according to President Chávez's announcement on Sunday 3 April."

Is Chávez decided, then, on militarizing Venezuelan society? Not in any way! He speaks foolishly of 2 million reservists, but what he really wants is to foment the creation of a new missionary corps. A corps sufficiently large and sufficiently armed so as to accomplish, besides the already-known electoral support mission—oh irony that would make Ceresole himself shudder!—, the intimidation of the Venezuelan masses and army. Incitations for guaranteeing the defense against any invader or guaranteeing the impetuous march of the revolution, but which effectively offers him some guarantee of continuing to remain in power...

his real obective.

{ Oswaldo Barreto, TalCual, 15 July 2005 }

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