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july 18 2014 image description
by: jmhumire 0 Comments

SFS hosts Venezuelan Vice-Admiral Carratú for a discussion of current conflict within Maduro’s government

WASHINGTON, DC– On Wednesday, July 16, SFS hosted a policy roundtable concerning the growing conflict in Venezuela— not simply between the populist government and its civilians, but between the government and military factions as well—and how this increasingly important issue impacts the United States. Our three panelists were Armando Guzman, the host of Perspectiva Nacional on the Spanish-language channel Univision and a prominent journalist of the DC area; Adm. Mario Iván Carratú Molina, the ex-Vice Admiral of the Venezuelan Presidential Guard under President Pérez who currently resides in the United States under forced exile by the Venezuelan government; and Douglas Farah, a well-recognized defense consultant and Latin American security expert who has worked as a career investigative journalist and foreign correspondent for several news outlets.

The event began with an introduction from Mr. Guzman, who emphasized the global reach the recent protests in Venezuela had, saying that “not only the United States, but the entire world knows what is going on in Venezuela,” but there is little motivation or resource to affect change in the region. Mr. Guzman compared the tormented Venezuela of today to that which he visited years ago, reflecting that “the contrast is incredible from the last time I was there… there is no happiness… there is poverty and hunger… [Caracas] is converted into a capital of misery.” However, while the international community may be aware of the violence of the protests that started last spring, lesser known is the growing separatist attitude in the government and the armed forces, laying the groundwork for a larger and even more disastrous clash within the government itself.

unnamed-26Adm. Carratú shed further light on the growing intergovernmental conflict in Venezuela. He explained the current political structure of the country, highlighting specific corrupt leaders within the government and military, such as Diosdado Cabello, that are “driving this dirty war of selective repression and violence that has converted the people into an object to be subjugated.” As Carratú explained, power is currently diluted into factions, with an increasingly exhausted military unwilling to build bridges of communication or cooperate with the government.

This plays an integral role in the ability of Venezuela to overcome the current conflict, because the civil-military relationship is an important part of maintaining democracy, and, indeed, with an over-expanded military force (there are currently 200 admirals alone in the Venezuelan armed forces), communication among these ever-more separatist factions could benefit Venezuela’s fight for liberty. 

As Adm. Carratú points out, however, the Venezuelan citizenry remain “silenced… the people do not know when or if they will be able to overcome this… popular sovereignty does not exist.” Opposition movements, though numerous, remain largely segregated, thus unable to form an effective movement against the repressive government. These movements include 67 political parties, growing Christian communities, university and student groups, NGOs, and more, none of whom individually present a strong enough defense for the Venezuelan people. Carratú ended his presentation with the recognition that even if these factions were able to unite against the government and its satellites, the Bolivarian revolution has spread throughout Latin America from the creation of ALBA and furthered by Chavismo, so that Venezuela is now completely surrounded by similarly repressive, anti-American governments. For Venezuela to achieve liberty is one battle to maintain it in the company of so many Bolivarian neighbors would be an entirely new struggle.

Douglas Farah rounded out the opening presentations with further analysis of the Bolivarian movement in Latin America. Similarly to Carratú, Farah believes that the current Venezuelan government draws its strength from Chavez’s ALBA, which brought all the revolutionary states, who previously had little in common, together in a common goal: “to end the period of Western imperialism” or, in other words, to eradicate American influence in the region. This force is strengthened by the international criminal network that characterizes so much of Latin America, including guerrilla activity such as the FARC, Islamism infiltration, and the rise of Hezbollah in Latin America. Meanwhile, civil unrest continues in several of the ALBA countries, most notably in Venezuela, and Western powers such as the United Staes have made no sign of intending to curtail the expansion of the Bolivarian revolution. As Farah says, “These are real countries, with real resources in our hemisphere and we laugh at this threat.” The rise in power of these repressive regimes presents a significant threat to American security, and yet Latin America receives almost no attention from US foreign policy makers, thus allowing its leaders to continue their illegal activity and further violate the sovereignty of their own peoples. 

After our three panelists spoke, there was a short question and answer period followed by a rooftop reception, where the conversation was continued well into the night. We thank our panelists and all of our guests for attending and contributing to the intelligent and open exchange of ideas in our pursuit of worldwide security and liberty.

SFS associates, interns, and guests at the rooftop reception

SFS associates, interns, and guests at the rooftop reception

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