Xavier Reyes Matheus is a PhD doctor in Latin American Contemporary History
In April 2002, the Venezuelan Army Chief announced the dismissal of Hugo Chávez, after the brutal and authoritarian reaction of his government to repress the streets and to silence the media, in a large demonstration protest. Nevertheless, after several hours, such an example of military ethics and commitment with human rights turned out to be the watchword of a Machiavellian operation orchestrated in the best of Castro’s style: a group of military officers and generals not only manoeuvred to keep Chávez his chair and give him back the presidency, but also they became the executor arm of a purge for transforming the Army into a praetorian guard. This ‘guard’ was created to serve someone who –regardless of all his charismatic history of seducing the crowd– now deserved the title of dictator, according to the Venezuelan Constitution and to the most elementary democratic values.
Indeed, at that point, the self-proclaimed Bolivarian Revolution had managed to bring under its control all the branches of the public power, and it was ready to do the same with other two institutions that were key to the country’s life, and that should be ruled only by meritocracy and its work in favour of the Venezuelans. The Army was one of them; the other was the PDVSA (Petróleo de Venezuela SA), vital muscle of the national wealth. Thereby, in 2003, the chavismo also started purging the staff who was jealously keeping the mystique of the know-how in the oil industry, and it started to appoint its management positions among that group of henchmen, with whom the chavismo could then move on without obstacles towards the instauration of a military regime.
After the abuse, the inefficiency and the plunder by the military who put into place the most capable and decent officers to put down their weapons at the feet of the supreme leader (‘kneeled-down’ as Chávez commanded), PDVSA stopped working as an exemplary enterprise and it started financing huge international corruption and organise crime nets. Billionaire monkey businesses that have been not only supported by the Army to grant them impunity, but officers that have been directly become chiefs within the organisation. Thus, under the guidance of the god-father Diosdado Cabello, the name ‘Cártel de los Soles’ has become popular for referring to the apparatus of military chiefs that, identified and prosecuted by the North American and international justice, are in charge of the government of an actual narco-State which supports and is supported by every type of despotic and terrorist groups, all around the world.
However, the most tragic consequence of that totalitarian power and money orgy is not only affecting Venezuela’s macroeconomy, but it is already affecting the most basic survival of the population. Venezuela’s population has been decimated by chavistas gunmen who were granted the monopoly of the force by the Army; and it has been subdued to a State terrorism which has cornered the opposition and the citizens’ protests. Famine, privation of the most basic services and massive emigration have devastated Venezuela, unlike any other Latin American country has suffered in the recent history. Maduro has systematically violated every single human right, political and civil right, and the international community has finally understood that the only possible approach towards the democratic values is the one that claims his dismissal and the restoration of power to the constitutional and legitimate institutions. These institutions, today represented by Juan Guaidó, have the mission to guide Venezuela to reconciliation and peace, and to implement the necessary urgent policies to restore Venezuela from the catastrophic scenario in which it has been drawn by the totalitarian chavismo.
Thus, since it is the turn of the ‘Freedom Operation’, as Leopoldo López supports to implement, a wrecked Venezuela, which has been prevented from any future perspective, is calling the honourable military officers, aware of their historical responsibility and their commitment with freedom and the law, to restore the dignity of the military institution and, with it, the dignity of a country that still has everything to become one of the most promising and prosperous nations of Latin America.