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  • The reformulation of military doctrine by Chavez can be used to build armed forces at the service of revolutionary processes.

    The reformulation of military doctrine by Chavez can be used to build armed forces at the service of revolutionary processes. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 May 2018
The reformulation of military doctrine by Chavez can be used to analyze how to build armed forces at the service of revolutionary processes, writes Marco Teruggi.

It is a border area with Colombia. The militiamen arrive little by little, in motorcycles, buses, trucks. They come from the central neighborhoods with low houses, where the town ends and the plain begins, until it resembles jungle. They meet early in the training camp of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fanb) for the day of the Bolivarian National Militia. They have training practice, displacement, shooting. They carry their green uniform, different according to the rank they occupy. Take advantage of the fact that it is time to gather mangoes and have breakfast, the economic situation is difficult. There are many women, big people, young people, mostly comuneros and state workers, Chavistas all. At the end of the day they will wear their civilian clothes, they will return to their daily activities.

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The Militia is a central part of the Chavista project. Just as a revolution is not built from the state apparatus, nor can it be defended in a classical way, with doctrines inherited from the North American formations of the School of the Americas. Particularly when faced with schemes of attack that do not respond to the traditional forms of war, without uniformed armies, declared generals, regular armaments, deployed with the devil's maxim: make believe that it does not exist.

Popular Protagonism

As in the construction of the architecture of the project, the premise was the same: there is no possibility of transformation without incorporating new forms of organization with popular protagonism. In the case of security and defense, the Militia was formed in 2008, with the idea of strength of the people in arms within the doctrine of integral defense of the nation and an antimperialist Fanb. The General Command of the Militia was formed with its General Staff, dependent on the Operational Strategic Command of the Fanb. The Militia, as in the different calls made by Chavez, attended by men and women from all over the country, from neighborhoods in cities, institutions, rural areas, the social base of Chavismo, in the process of preparation within a strategic defense plan of the revolution, that is, of itself.

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There is a deeper element to understanding the Militias, and the civic-military unit is the cornerstone of the process. "The union of the people with the soldiers, the soldiers with their people is one of the fundamental pillars of the Bolivarian revolution," said Chavez, a military man and leader of the Fanb. The genesis and development of the revolution cannot be understood without the two times in parallel and united. February 27 was civil and caused a break in a sector of the Fanb to see the massacre unleashed against the population: 3,000 dead in two days, on February 4, 1992, the result of a military uprising articulated with organized civil sectors. As for the defeat of the coup d'état in April 2002, it was the union of these two forces, with the massive mobilization in the streets along with the action of the military that faced the coup from within, such as the Maracay Battalion. The revolution is founded on those episodes with the power of myth.

Military Issue

The military issue involves several points at once. There is a proper dimension of defense, as the border areas are the epicenter of the war; another of government, with an important part of the elected and appointed positions – such as governors and ministers – the responsibility of active or retired military personnel, and another of economic order, since the Fanb has increasing economic responsibilities in these last years. Some of them are the Great Mission Sovereign Supply (Gmas), AgroFanb, Military Corporation of Mining, Oil and Gas Industries, and the Emiltra Military Transport Company.

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La Gmas, for example, was created in 2016 as part of the strategy to regularize the modes of production, arrival of imports – such as ports – distribution channels, pricing system, marketing, with a civic-military deployment under management of the Minister of General Defense, Vladimir Padrino Lopez. The priority areas were agri-food, pharmaceutical and industrial. Neuralgic points. It happened after the defeat.

Field of Action

Why this extension of the field of action of the Fanb? One hypothesis is that faced with the war scenario to which the process was brought, and after the defeat in the legislative elections of 2015, it was decided to give greater strength to an actor with internal order capacity, centralization of command and presence in all the territory to try to retake the government on the economy. A pillar of the process deployed in an era of an economy assaulted in a more acute way by all the internal and external flanks. 

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The results, for the moment, were not as expected: the economic picture unleashed in Venezuela showed a complexity that is not resolved by a change of actors at the top, but rather by the need to rethink the bases for the development of the economic/productive/distributive structure, and to do so while confronting the increasingly widening international blockade resulting from the aggression of the United States, and corruption plots with a power established in the neuralgic areas of the economy, of which the Fanb does not escape. 

Civic-Military Myth

There is no Chavismo without civic-military myth. In that dimension reside some of the main strengths, as well as questions, by territories of action that are of great complexity, such as the border with Colombia, and the sustained work of the United States to provoke internal earthquakes. It would not have been until this time without the loyalty that allowed it to face the armed assaults of the right, and the offers within the plan of war, some of which managed to start up coup movements. 

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As an example, in March a conspiracy was stopped inside the Fanb, where six lieutenant colonels, a first lieutenant and two sergeants belonging to the Movement of Transition to the Dignity of the People were arrested in the Ayala Battalion, one of the main ones of the country, located in Caracas. How much does the empire offer to those who carry out a coup? The reformulation of the military doctrine made by Chavez can be used to analyze how to build armed forces at the service of revolutionary processes and not the interests of the ruling classes and the empire. A theme always pending and complex in a continent that by its history associated by instinct of body and memory the armed forces with dictatorship and enemy.

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