John Kerry's recent aggressive declaration on Venezuela
confirms that whoever is in the White House, Venezuela
will remain subject to intervention from the United
States government and its allies. The role of the
Venezuelan army in the face of this reality will be
crucial to defend peace and democracy in Venezuela.
The first part of this interview, published earlier,
covered issues of US intervention, relations with
Colombia, and efforts by the government's opponents
to create an atmosphere of crisis inside the country.
In this final part of the interview, General Raúl
Baduel, head of the Venezuelan army explains to Heinz
Dieterich efforts to combat terrorist snipers and
the role of media manipulation. Baduel ends with a
call for respect for democracy and peaceful coexistence.
The original interview is dated March 9th 2004.
How can you neutralize the snipers?
First I want to discuss the manipulation of this matter
by many news media that focus on images of the behaviour
of the State security forces. Often those news media
have wanted to present this issue as an abuse by the
security forces, searching buildings and residences
and above all acting on the offensive and not as a
result of a necessity of the State.
shots are fired which are judged to come from snipers,
it's necessary to neutralize those snipers. And one
of the ways to do so is to enter the buildings where
they are to be found so as to arrest them. So the
aim has been to manipulate the issue of the need to
maintain public order as if it were a matter of human
rights abuses by the security forces.
Last night a sniper fired about ten shots as the State
TV (VTV) building, wounding a national guardsman.
How, in police or military terms is it possible to
neutralize those snipers in an urban environment like
It's complex. We have deployed aircraft, above all
helicopters, that make periodic reconnaissance flights
carrying counter-snipers with orders to neutralize
the other snipers.
it's a very complicated task. You know this city very
well. Caracas has many confined spaces with very high
buildings and everything indicates that these people
act deliberately to cause widespread damage and generate
a kind of systematic and selective terrorism, seeking
at the same time to call into question the policy
of the security forces.
Are army patrols by special units against these snipers
not necessary? Or have they not been considered? Or
is it not desirable to involve the army?
In the region around the capital units of the armed
forces, represented principally by units of the National
Guard - but also with members of the Military Police
- have been engaging in patrols as a preventive measure
aiming to dissuade those who seek to carry out this
kind of action.
policy of the armed forces has a constitutional basis.
The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic gave us
the authority to guarantee the independence and sovereignty
of the nation and to ensure the integrity of its geographic
space. This carries three fundamental tasks: 1. military
defence; 2. cooperation in the maintenance of internal
order, and 3. active participation in the nation's
second of these tasks is the legal constitutional
basis for the actions of all components of the armed
forces to guarantee the country's internal order.
Do the armed forces have the arms necessary for this
type of problem, for example night vision equipment,
or do they lack that technology?
No, we have that technology and we have personnel
trained and competent in those tasks
course, as I've said, they are complex tasks. In many
cases when a sniper or one of these terrorists gets
in place to carry out armed attacks, he must have
some minimal support from people there who facilitate
his escape from the area.
since we respect constitutional and legal rules, making
a collective search in a building has been found to
be very complicated. By which I mean that in many
cases a perverse use has been made of rights guaranteed
in our constitution.
Am I wrong to say that in any country in the world
the police would immediately search a building if
a sniper assisted by people in that building tried
to murder someone?
We see in the news that in countries like the United
States the direct use of firearms to neutralize someone
if that person fails to obey police instruction, resulting
in the death of that potential aggressor. We have
seen that many times.
And why does that not happen here?
our government and authorities are well aware that
they ought not to fall into that trap. Because as
I have already said, there are plenty of news outlets
here who report the actions of forces of law and order
in a very skewed way and thus seek to exploit an image
of those forces of public order as aggressors in violation
of human rights.
To recap, you then see no danger in the subversive
project underway, that one might call, assuming you
agree, a third coup d'état.
try to use these terms carefully. You will remember
that the Supreme Court judged that in April 2002 there
was no coup d'état in this country. That judgement
left us in a situation that is quite sui generis because
now Venezuela has the exceptionally rare privilege
of writing new theory on events of this kind with
a brand new glossary of terms. We can call what happened
neither a coup d'état, nor an insurrection,
nor a conspiracy because none of those cases fit the
judgement of the Supreme Court.
if we use the terminology that is common usage in
international affairs, then it's obvious that here
we are undergoing a continous coup détat with
corresponding deliberate objectives.
I address this issue with military personnel I explain
that perhaps we still do not have sufficient information
or perspective to state as a fact that possibly what
we are involved in is a new type of societal war -
analyzed by, among others, Alvin Toffler in his book
The War of the Future - in which it is not strictly
necessary for two conventional forces to face off
against each other in a theater of war, but rather
that a climate of tension and destabilization is generated
through psychological operations so as to do away
with a legal and legitimately constituted government
which has repeatedly submitted to electoral processes.
is no doubt at all that here we have news media that
we soldiers call authentic vehicles of psychological
How can you do more to defend the Bolivarian process
as Commander in Chief of the army than when you were
head of the Fourth Armoured Division?
been said I was given this position practically to
neutralize me, that the position is merely administrative.
it may well be true that the operational doctrine
of the Venezuelan army insists that the primary task
of the head of some component, in this case the army
itself, consists of organizing, equipping and training
the land component, and in the case of its operational
use, putting it under the orders of an operational
command, my superiors also share that authority and
in fact I have in the past received orders that grant
me operational command over the land forces.
I've got used to taking criticism or attempts to undermine
my respect and prestige within the armed forces, I
don't waste time or effort thinking about such trivia
now, I can say that our sacred mission is set out
in the letter and spirit of the national bolivarian
constitution and we see ourselves daily more cohesive
in terms of that spirit.
was a group of comrades in arms who stepped aside
from their duty - motivated either by greed or the
desire for power - and gathered in a public square,
the Plaza Francia in Altamira here in the capital,
and proclaimed to the four winds that 80 per cent
of the armed forces supported them - deceiving all
those who believed in them.
the proof of the cohesion of the armed forces and
their commitment to preserve the supreme interests
and high mission of the Venezuelan State is categorical
and on that there is not the least doubt.
Is there anything you want to add?
to say I am very pleased to have had this meeting
with you and to add my voice as a citizen and soldier
to demand of all those sectors that think violence
is the way forward that they understand the great
majority in our country are peaceloving and long for
these conflicts to be dealt with through dialogue
and democracy. I'll take advantage of this chance,
yet again, to call for confraternity and peaceful
coexistence in our bolivarian homeland.
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