Who was Leamsy Salazar? Hugo Chávez's Pride and Joy

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How close was Leamsy Salazar to President Chávez? Well, why don’t we let the eternal commander himself answer that question, in this Aló, Presidente clip from just after the 2002 coup attempt:

“Salazar, which one are you in this picture?” asks Hugo Chávez, holding up a photo of a group of soldiers waving a flagon top of a building, apparently the Palacio Blanco that houses the Presidential Honor Guard, right across the street from Miraflores Palace.

“The one holding the flag,” answers a young and hesitant Leamsy Salazar.

“Aaah, the one holding the flag… Salazar Villafaña, a humble, great, marine.”

Then, after greeting some of his roof-mates, Chávez closes emphatically:

“¡Cumplieron con la patria! Siéntanse orgullosos, muchachos.”

Gotta love the internet.

1 COMMENT

  1. For those of you keeping score at home, DEA-rat Salazar was waving the flag above the Palacio Blanco at around the same time that CIA-stooge Raul Baduel was busy reinstating Chávez into the presidency. Menos mal que la revolución logró librarse de esos coñuemadres…

    • …an object lesson, among other things, that it is not a good communications strategy to talk to the floor and refer to oneself in the third person while denying one is a cartel boss to a *journalist* who calls you “hermano”…

    • I really don’t buy the idea that PL is in control. He has a very ineffective line of command bellow him. Literally thousands of generals in a structure that was meant to have 20 at most. The armed forces have been heavily disrupted.

      Now, he could be in control not because he is a general but because he may be a high ranking narco. Maybe. But again, if Maduro is so powerless why is he still in the picture? Why don’t just quit? My guess is that guys like Cabello, Padrino and Maduro have shares of power and they are struggling for it.

      I think saying that Padrino is in total control is a bold statement.

    • With all due respect, if anyone had ‘total control of the political power in Venezuela’ we would not have a government in a state of complete paralysis. It is one thing to say that the military is propping up the regime (and collectively has veto power) – another to suggest that they speak with one voice or have any idea (again, collectively) what to do. Here’s an interesting question: why did Maduro take Padrino López with him to China? To stop him staging a coup? If the coup already happened, that clearly makes no sense. Maybe Maduro is so sure he won’t be overthrown (despite his constant whining) he doesn’t worry about traveling the world with the general who constitutes his main support. Or perhaps (here’s an intriguing thought) he’s actually daring the military to kick him out, having had enough of trying to forge a consensus among the mafia and the radical leftists. If you’re going to be ousted, he might think, better not to be in town when it happens!!

    • It does, because Cabello was allegedly the guy that could hold the hot potato after Maduro is gone, and would be able to keep the institutional façade of the horror show functioning for a little longer. But now we have a guy from inside saying that Cabello is no good. Thus, who’s left to save Chavismo? No one: the boat is adrif. But I agree with you that in the big scheme of thingz this ends up being irrelevant, since Chavismo’s fate has been sealed for a while now, with Leasmys or without Leasmys opening their mouths.

      Just sit around, relax, and see chavismo crumbling.

    • Like it did not with Aponte Aponte, Antonini, or Makled. We are desperate to find someone that solve this freaking mess for us instead of assuming our own responsibility

  2. I don’t think it matters. I don’t think Cabello is out.

    People don’t care about corruption, since they are themselves corrupt.

    The military muscle of the regime is intact and loyal (and they better be, now more than ever)

    • Totally Agree

      Their core supporters will
      1. Never hear about this from a non government censored source
      2. Believe it’s another conspiracy
      3. Not care (‘who cares if he sold a little drugs?’)
      4. Are too busy waiting in line for food and medicine, and too scared of the local malandros and colectivos to make any displeasure known

      As for the military/national guard, they very much enjoy their position of privilege under the regime.

  3. If there were a popular uprising who would likely succeed Maduro? Would the successor be from the opposition or a charisma or perhaps a non aligned military person. Thanks..

    • I thought so, too. Though it could have been the other way around. (Oh, to be a fly on the wall during the early tiptoeing around the issues …) Either way, there’s a full-bodied story in all this, the romantic angle being just a small part of it.

        • book / movie / $$$$.

          It appears that the wife (who is she? How did she vote? Kep!) may not have been so crucial in Leamsy’s decision. According to abc.es, which should be taken with a grain of salt, as well one should with all accounts,

          “…Todo indica que a mediados de 2014 la alarma de Salazar había crecido por presuntas represalias cometidas contra algún compañero que, como él, había visto demasiado. En diciembre solicitó permiso para casarse y marcharse de viaje de boda, y se ausentó del país….”
          http://www.abc.es/internacional/20150127/abci-venezuela-salazar-perfil-201501271700.html

          • Definitivamente!
            Good one! Two friends go through the motions of a wedding and ensure they do not drink alcohol at the reception, in case they reveal to their families and all other invited guests that their emotions towards each other are not legit. Not only that, but the façade must have been exercised over at least a couple of months — it would be hard to fool many, I think.

    • Diez años siendo escolta de Chavez, se muere el caudillo y te mandan a trabajar con Cabello en la Asamblea Nacional? Ni siquiera te dejan como escolta del nuevo Presidente? A sabiendas de que Chávez no deja a Cabello de sucesor porque sabía que era un bichito, y prefiere regalarle el país al ala cubana??? Luego, ¿cómo se equivoca Cabello y deja a alguien que no es de su confianza absoluta escuchar o ver algo comprometedor? Ahora es que queda tela por cortar aquí.

  4. Leaving aside the “mamadera de gallo” about the guy’s name, I was a bit hesitant about the news yesterday, and I still am regarding details like Chavez’ son transporting drugs in private planes and the like. But one thing that struck me today was that this guy is not one of these Sargentos Barriga we see on the street matraqueando, or one of these old Generals, bold, fat and hopeless. This guy was in Miraflores because he was a commando. The Guardia de Honor used to tour the four forces and chose the best men to guard Miraflores. As far as I could see, the guy wears in the video, on the left, the Marines Batch and above it the Navy Seals equivalent batch (COPEMI, Comando de Operaciones Especiales Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda, or the old UOPE Unidad de Operaciones Especiales de la Armada) headquartered in Turiamo, the most elite corps in the Navy. On the right hand side he holds the Army Parachuters batch and the Special Forces Trainer batch.
    If this guy decided to step forward was because he saw something big, although I am not very clear about his connection with Diosdado after Chavez dead.

    • Yes, he saw his bank account (BIG) and said, its time to enjoy my wealth @ el imperio. Therefore he went and threw his buddies under the bus so he could get his residence and enjoy his wealth.

      • Well, I normally tend to put them all in the same bag, as you do, but to be honest, being a bodyguard is great, you are always close to the big ones, but not as great as managing a big budget, or being in charge of Alcabala in the Colombian border. These guys in Special Forces are not the ones getting filthy rich, not as a Lieutenant. Yes, the usual flattering gifts, a car, a flat in El Rodeo II or Yare II inside Tiuna Fortress, salary increases, but that’s it. Unless you are in a very operative unit, and by that I mean safeguarding the logistic chain of construction materials, border crossings, airports/ports, road check points, Ministry X, etc. you are out of the big money.

  5. Fascinating detail that Leamsy was none other than the soldier with the flag on 13A. Thankyou CC! Incidentally, if you go there today (not the Palacio Blanco actually but the barracks of the presidential Honour Guard next door), there is a silhouette of the scene mounted on the roof in just that spot. That is indeed an iconic image for chavismo. This is a bit (guardando las distancias) like the Marlboro Man dying of cancer.

    • Here’s another thought: if this guy was – as DC suggests – an infiltrator, you have to wonder why Washington (which was allegedly trying to overthrow Chávez in April 2002) had him play such a prominent role in the restoration of the Comandante Eterno. What are we supposed to believe? that they realised the coup was a failure and decided to cut their losses and keep him under deep cover? Damn’ cunning these CIA types. Of course, if he WAS an infiltrator, we must assume that anything he tells his political bosses is the unvarnished truth. The government’s inability to concoct a credible story around the desertion of Salazar is almost as interesting as the desertion itself.

      • Also, if Leamsy was an infiltrator, the chavista high command, indeed the entire FANB, are incredibly stupid, not to have picked up clues l-o-n-g before now!

  6. The regimes bosses must feel like they are in a cooking pot which little by little is being heated to a higher temperature , their level of discomfiture is rising minute by minute , they dont know whether the pot will ever reach a boiling point but they know that it may. As each problem accumulates with a new one and then with another one in consecutive succesion they must be feeling the heat . Is there a tipping point which once reached will cause the regime to start crumbling and fall to pieces?? . We really cant know but we do know that whatever the chances of such point being reached , its getting closer and closer !!

    • “The regimes bosses must feel like they are in a cooking pot which little by little is being heated to a higher temperature…”

      About time they found out how most of the rest of Venezuela feels.

  7. Personally, I find it hard to believe Diosdado is directly involved in the drug business. What for? He has so many other sources for money, with much sweeter returns (Cadivi, Seniat, gasoline sales, Pdvsa, food imports). Why bother with the only business which could really put him in jail?

        • It is. Depending on who you are it may not be enforced.

          Nonetheless the argument is weak. Cabello can go deal drugs because it gives him cash. And in his arrogance he think he can get away with it. That’s all.

          • No.

            I made the same argument.

            As any drug kingpin knows, money and power are of little value if you can’t travel, buy and bully at will.

            This is the one offence that could just put him in a bind, unable to go anywhere, prisoner of his own country.

            I just don’t think he did it.

          • 1. Criminals never think they will get caught.

            2. So long as he has the government to protect him (or rather, IS the government), he can’t be touched. I doubt that any of them ever thought that the oil rents would ever run out and that they would be unable to keep the whole operation going.

            3. The whole drug business was making so much money, a guy like Cabello couldn’t resist it. Once he tried it, he just had to control it all.

            No, I don’t find it implausible that he would be involved. I find it much less plausible that a Navy Lieutenant Commander would defect and make up a huge elaborate story that (if fake) would not stand up to scrutiny, so that he can live in U.S. Federal Witness Protection.

  8. I’ve long felt that the rest of the world was hanging the leaders of the revolution out to dry by giving them enough rope to hang themselves. Who wants to be associated with this group? The rest of the world played them for their $$ and is walking away as quickly as it can now that the government is crumbling and the country is in shambles. It’s been an open secret that many in leadership are involved in a range of corruption activities. The problem with open secrets is that one day those secrets become facts that can be adjudicated.

  9. From Foreign Policy, by Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez: Is This Scandal the Proof That Venezuela Has Finally Become a Narco-State?An paragraph of interest for CC bloggers and readers:

    Given his background, Salazar certainly ought to be in the know. Prior to turning state’s witness, he spent over a decade as the head of Hugo Chávez’s personal security detail and sometime personal assistant; a YouTube video currently making the rounds on Venezuelan social media even shows El Comandante singing Salazar’s praises on TV. Following the death of Chávez in early 2013, Salazar was reassigned to Cabello, whom he is prepared to depict in court, according to ABC, as the capo di tutti capi of the “Soles” narcotics cartel.

    More at the link.

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