Interview with Commander of the Venezuelan Army General RaÃºl Isais Baduel by Jorge Aguirre of Panorama Digital June 18th 2006
Divisional General Raul Isaias Baduel calls himself a simple parachute infantryman. The Army’s commanding General and a key player in the Venezuelan military high command spoke with Panorama on recent purchases of weapons systems and the scenario of possible asymmetrical conflict. Many questions turn on this individual, who in terms of military rank could well take retirement on July 1st after thirty years of service in the army, or equally, become a candidate to be Minister of Defence.
Panorama: What is the argument for acquiring new weapons systems?
RB: In no way does the chief of the Armed Forces, nor the national government, nor those of us who make up the military high command want to embark on an arms race. I think there are many arguments, but it seems to me the most well-founded can be read in the preamble to the national Constitution and also in the Constitution’s Article 13, which I will permit myself to cite, “The national territory will not be ceded, made over, leased nor in any way at all transferred, either temporarily or partially to foreign states or other subjects of international law, the Venezuelan geographic space is a zone of peace, foreign military bases or installations will not established for military purposes in any way, on the part of a power or a coalition of power.”
Panorama: How does one explain then that for many years military attaches of the United States were in the country?
RB: Regrettably some governments with the consent of local agents, exceeded the exercise of the established conventions that govern diplomatic relations between countries, because while those conventions agree that diplomatic relations may in part include military personnel like defence attaches, that agreement also has constraints.
Panorama: Is there any evidence involving these attaches in the events of April 11th (trans. the 2002 coup)? How much did they have to do with that episode?
RB: There is certain evidence and records that were remitted to the competent jurisdictional bodies relating to the presence of soldiers from the north american military mission, who for longstanding reasons had been permitted a base within the installations of Fort Tiuna and very often in the buildings of the general command and each of its constituent parts. They abused that confidence and intervened in a shameless way in internal affairs.
Panorama: You have insisted on the concept of peace – how will that be maintained with for example the US that has made severe criticisms of Venezuela?
RB: We have seen that powerful governments that have the ability to project military force try to assign our country the role of a rogue state and of being a threat, not just in the region but in the continent and even, as has been indicated, for the world. To explain this, one has available the opinion of renowned academics who speak in a book calle “Corporate Predators” where one notes that 51 of the biggest economies in the world are now no longer countries but rather multinational corporations. The academics warn that these corporations apparently have no moral restraints because sometimes in some countries they also run the governments.
Panorama: Would that apply to the United States?
RB: Well, I want to stick to the matter in order to be more precise in relation to our country. The academics have defined these corporations as corporate predators and likewise attribute corporate crimes to them. If one thinks not, let’s look at what is happening in the Middle East, in Iraq…
Panorama: What pretext would they have for an eventual invasion of Venezuela?
RB: I am not promoting a warlike mentality, but precisely those corporate predators in search of megaprofits must see our country as a much-coveted victim because Venezuela has an enormous quantity of reserves, above all of fossil origin of which those predators are greedy consumers.
Panorama: In that case, what are the scenarios for Venezuela?
RB: One of the scenarios of potential threats is a fourth generation war with a subsidiary concept of asymmetrical conflict and as its counterpart, a resistance war. The other scenario is of destabilization and disarticulation where a series of actions occur like state groups, groups with separatist aspirations, that try to divide the nation’s unity. There, where you’re from (Zulia) separatism has been advocated. Before we regarded an Independent Republic of Zulia as a joke.
Panorama: And now?
RB: Now we see it’s not like that. On one occasion they invited me to Zulia University to give a conference and the students and lecturers made clear their worries on the matter.
Panorama: Do you mean the idea of separating Zulia comes from the United States?
RB: I don’t have information to attribute or not to attribute it to any particluar country. I am convinced though that it is in large measure dictated by those corporate predators.
RB: Regrettably, they sometimes take advantage of democratic structures where there is pluralism of ideas and freedom to exercise rights and so, unfortunately some of our compatriots yearn one day to wake up and hear the notes of “God Bless America” rather than the notes of “Gloria al bravo pueblo”.
Panorama: What’s the other secnario one ought to weigh up?
RB: A scenario of regional conflict, because it’s possible to use the pretext that our country is a main impulse or base for factors that generate violence in neighbouring coutnries and so in the context of miltary aid it might be said that it is essential to attack some objectives on Venezuelan soil. Another scenario that we cannot discount, and please God it never happens, is the scenario of military invasion. We are indeed seeing, are we not, that countries and coalitions with military power have attacked other countries. The most serious thing is that they have arrogated themselves the right to invade even ignoring decisions of international bodies like the UN Security Council. In those circumstances we have no other choice but to make preparations although let’s hope no invasion ever takes place.
Translated from Spanish into English by toni solo, a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic
diversity (*[email protected]*). This translation is Copyleft.