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Mystery and Intrigue in Venezuela's Army and Castro gossip

By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views

14.06.05 | Eastern Block Communist countries were among the most secretive regimes that existed. Observers were left to rely on indirect ways to try to understand what was really going behind the stage. Who was in the second line of a military parade. Who was not seen for a few weeks. What allusion had the general secretary in mind. What the heck "one hundred flowers" meant.

Well, we are already reaching that stage in Venezuela.

First we had the strange report of a frontier garrison revolting against their Nazional Guard commanding officer. Apparently it was an account settlement between pro Chavez factions about cashing in "revenues" of doubtful legality. The government tried first to pass this as "media wars", their general excuse for everything, but El Nacional persisted. Which now makes the incident graver than what it might really be.

Then the traditional military parade of June 24 was suspended. Assassination attempt in the air. Let's look at this with more detail. Carabobo is our Yorktown, our Trafalgar, our Austerlitz. Every year the National Monument is the site for a major parade. One year even Chavez considered reenacting the battle but was dissuaded not to do it when the difficulty and costs revealed to be more than expected. So, why suspend the parade now that Chavez is supposedly on the peak of his power, when 70% of the population loves him (according to chavista poll interpretation)?

I have been to Carabobo and I can assure that an area which can be sealed by thousand of soldiers is not the best place to try an assassination attempt. Unless.... Where to look for that "unless"?

Sunday we were told that indeed Castro will be the godparent/sponsor of the new officer graduating class. Teodoro Petkoff of Tal Cual has an excellent editorial on how much debate could have been taken place before the kids decided to bestow such an "honor". None.

It seems that the cheap Chavez provocation to force the army to grant high honors to Castro is having some side effect and that could be the "unless". Probably Chavez is afraid (justifiedly?) of a hit from inside. Could that explain tonight mini "cadena"?

We have been spared cadenas for quite a while, but tonight we got a short one on the inauguration of Barrio Adentro II. This prolongation of Barrio Adentro I consists in providing poor neighborhoods with more than Cuban doctors. That is to set up simple clinics where some services such as X-rays might or might not be offered. Nothing to argue there.

However there was a few problems with that "cadena". First, according to Tal Cual, Barrio Adentro II has already been running for a while. In fact the one chosen for Sunday Alo Presidente was spruced up in a rush as they learned that Chavez had selected that one to go (according to Tal Cual "Por mi Madre"). Was it already showing signs of wear and strain?

But the "cadena" subtext was an outright praise of Cuban help. All sorts of people were interviewed on that subject that one could only wonder! Even if indeed there were reasons to thank Cuba for its help, this was propaganda, pure and simple. Could that be a clumsy (or prepared?) was to counter attack the faction in the Army unhappy with the Cuban growing presence (rumored to even give orders in some military areas)? It seems that criticism to Cuba excessive role in Venezuela is gathering enough momentum that chavismo decided to activate its propaganda machine.

The words of El Supremo were of course to the praise of XXI century socialism without which nothing of this would be possible. To the collaboration that it allows between the people. We were always told that the Eastern block was very collaborative until it fell and we all learned that "collaboration" was directed by the USSR. Who will direct the next "collaboration"?

Many symbols, many illusions, many allusions. Little direct truth. The script is evolving as expected in this type of regimes...

And to close this post. Barrio Adentro III was announced in that "cadena" as finally building hospitals for the poor. For those naive souls that might believe in that, I have the news that there is indeed already plenty of hospitals in Venezuela. Probably not enough but certainly quite a few. And many in dismal state. I would suggest that before building new hospitals it would be a good idea to refurbish the ones in need. But of course, El Supremo is already seeing himself inaugurating the first socialist hospital of the XXI century.

PS: Do not miss the red uniforms of the nurses. Talk about a soothing environment!!! Or is it to hide better blood stains to come? Well, maybe it is not an nurse uniform, maybe it is something else, but I do not recall the Soviet Union lavishing so much red on its militant uniforms.....

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