Our future biggest FANs


Our youthful friends over at the Spanish-language blog “Sin el Chivo y el Mecate” have a new post up. In it, they address the fact that Venezuela’s top military officer, alleged drug king Henry Rangel Silva, said that the Armed Forces were “wedded to the Revolution” and “would not stand by” if an opposition candidate were to win the elections in 2012.

Tomás, the post’s author, wonders what this means for Venezuela’s future, and how we can possibly expect to overcome the Chávez years by democratic means if the Armed Forces cannot be counted on to respect popular will.

My message to Tomás and all other Venezuelans who fret over this is simple: lighten up.

If there is one thing we know about the modern Venezuelan Armed Forces, it’s that they go where the money is. Once they realize the government has lost popular support and that the opposition may win the election, they will come around.

The FAN, with few exception, sucks up to the people in power, those who control the purse strings. They won’t be fighting quixotic, ideological wars, and they won’t be battling a potential opposition government. They will be focused on getting the new government to place them where the funds are there for the taking.

Our main job is to win the election and make sure the CNE respects the outcome. Once that is done, we can worry about the TSJ, the FAN, the Consejos Comunales, and everyone else getting on board, or at least respecting the outcome.

My guess is that most of them will. Like the good fiefdom we have become, one the new cacique is in place and the winds have demonstrably changed, the ducks will line up.  It’s the Venezuelan way.

Let’s remember how, in the wee early morning hours of April 12, 2002, members of the DISIP were celebrating, shouting on the radio “cayó el tirano!”  Yes, the tyrant had fallen, only he came back the next day, and we never heard from them again.

So don’t lose sleep over Rangel Silva’s words.  When time comes, his successors will come sucking up to Maria Corina Machado or Henrique Capriles just like he has done with Chávez.  The FAN will be falling over itself trying to show they never, ever believed in the Revolution.  If we play our cards right, we might even get them to shout “Capitalismo, patria o muerte!”

Playing the winning card is in their DNA.

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  1. I agree with the post that reality will speak loudly to the FAN, who will understand that a coup will lead them into a rat hole from which no officer will escape.

    The obvious response of the OEA will be to isolate Venezuela, and to reduce military aid and transfers to nothing. If the FAN don’t care about the people of Venezuela (and I doubt that this is true) they will care if they have to rely on out-of-date military hardware imported from Belarus.

    And it should be existentially clear that failure to heed the election results will result in prosecution and incarceration. Do they really think a coup would last fifty years? If not, it will be another bunch of geriatric generals in jail.

  2. “If there is one thing we know about the modern Venezuelan Armed Forces, it’s that they go where the money is. Once they realize the government has lost popular support and that the opposition may win the election, they will come around”

    To make this happen the opposition must offer amnesty to everyone but Chavez, and his top people.

    Chavez let the military put their money grabbing hands in the cookie jar, so they would be wedded to him, or face the threat of jail with any new government.

    Decoupling them from Chavez by offering amnesty is distasteful, but its the only way, ask Nelson Mandela, the opposition has to choose, a bloodbath or to take a bath on the money the military and middle to lower ranking Chavistas stole.

  3. When a legitimate government eventually takes control of the country once more, they will inherit such a trashed nation that funds immediately needed to, say, restore the power grid and to get Guri back up to speed, will likely be diverted to a military that serves no actual purpose whatsoever, save draining off our resources. We all know that no South American military fights actual wars – they have neither the stomach or training for this, think God. And claims that the military are obligatory to maintain national security are foolishness.

    The military has to go, but don’t expect them to go quietly. It’s all rather daunting to consider, but for them to be cut out of the financial pie is nearly a prerequisite to a return to something even approximating the democratic process.


    • I agree that our military is composed of a bunch of coward, corrupt parasites who are a drain on our resources. But the idea that a country doesn’t need a military force, particularly in the world we are living in today, is downright absurd. It’s like saying that because most of our politicians during the last 50 years of democracy have been corrupt and inefficient we should get rid of the state altogether.

      If “claims that the military are obligatory to maintain national security are foolishness…” what new institution-mechanism do you propose? To my knowledge, it hasn’t been invented yet…

    • A redefinition of their role, and I mean their role in society as well as their national defense role, is in order.

      Maybe we need to reach out to the few ones who actually want to provide defense and security for Venezuelans, instead of lording over Venezuelans. These might be kept. Under a well-defined mission that never includes turning on Venezuelans in peacetime. They would be banned from public order, customs, policing, national parks, ports, airports, roads duties and attributions, under pain of most severe punishment. And of course banned from entering politics whatsoever while in uniform.

      Certainly, the bloated, anti-freedom caste has to go.

  4. Where is the money?

    FAN (by which I mean its individual members, not the organization) profits handsomely from chavismo. I would guess that a large portion of “military spending” is siphoned off at various levels into private pockets – “ghost soldiers”, kickbacks, expense padding. Also, I would expect chavista military to treat the services’ assets as their private toys – cars, housing, electronics, food, furniture, etc. Even for lower ranks, the chavista policy is (I presume) goodies for everybody – full pay, bonuses, take as much leave as you like, if you were overpaid – never mind! Next the opportunities to loot the private sector. Then there is the profit from the drug trade.

    If chavismo falls, not only is the party over, but thousands of military personnel will face justice for theft, fraud, drug trafficking, and more.

    The example of Nicaragua is relevant here. When the Sandinistas were defeated in 1990, they made it a condition that the army remained under their control and they looted the government of everything they could.

    The Nicaraguan election was intensively monitored and the U.S. government was hostile. The result was indisputable, and if the Sandinistas had balked, there would have been renewed Contra pressure with broad (if reluctant) international support.

    Venezuela will be different. If Obama is still in office, there will be no pressure from the U.S. for Chavez to acknowledge defeat. It will be more like Iran. There will be
    “discoveries” of “massive fraud” by the opposition, and the CNE will eventually certify a chavista victory. The FAN will sustain the regime by suppressing any resistance, rather than lose their bennies.

    A promise of amnesty might shake their resolution, though. Look for Chavez to create a backup army over the next few years – a “Bolivarian Guard”, exclusively recruited from committed chavistas, like Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

    • Interesting observations…meanwhile the “sapos en la olla” are wondering what will counter the Bolivarian Guard?, or is it a foregone conclusion that the water temperature in the pot is too high at this point for any frogs to jump out of the heated water….Also, does any one know if there has been an official response by Chavez to Silva’s declarations, or it is understood that nowadays no one dares utter anything without Pres. “The Democrat” Chavez approval, therefore is it reasonable to assume, if there hasn’t been a response, it is understood that this is going to be the official position going forward.


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