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2010-05-18

Politicization of Venezuela’s military decried

By Diana Yegres for Infosurhoy.com — 18/05/2010

Attorney shows evidence of military officials registered in Hugo Chávez’s political party

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The Venezuelan army has at least 27 officers whose military affiliation should prevent them from being part of the armed forces, according to the president of Venezuela’s NGO Association for Citizen’s Civilian Control. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

The Venezuelan army has at least 27 officers whose military affiliation should prevent them from being part of the armed forces, according to the president of Venezuela’s NGO Association for Citizen’s Civilian Control. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

CARACAS, Venezuela – Rocío San Miguel, the president of Venezuela’s NGO Association for Citizens’ Civilian Control, alleges 30 high-ranking military officials registered with the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) are violating the Constitution.

“The National Armed Forces constitute an essentially professional institution, without political militancy, organized by the State to guarantee the Independence and sovereignty of the Nation,” according to Article 328 of the Constitution.

San Miguel made her case during a TV show, where she showed the state-issued identity cards of two generals. She also identified a third officer, the commander of the recently created Popular Bolivarian Militia, before cross-referencing the names with the PSUV roster for the primary elections, which had been posted on the website run by the National Electoral Council (CNE).

But San Miguel didn't stop there. After outing the three military officials this past May, the lawyer has since discovered the PSUV registrations of 27 other high-ranking military officials by checking their identity cards, which appeared in the official gazettes that tracked their promotions, against the pro-government party’s lists.

More than a week after the denunciation, the entities charged with investigating have yet to make any statement. But San Miguel said she’s been a victim of threats and harassment, which she brought to the attorney general’s attention.

San Miguel said the presence of active military officials in the PSUV suggests that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has chosen to show that he’s counting on the revolution’s armed party as his biggest ally entering September’s elections.

“From now on, the vote of each and every Venezuelan on each electoral process is going to be in the hands of the FAN [National Armed Forces] through the Republic Plan (a military operation that oversees Venezuelans’ voting), the armed branch of the revolution,” she said.

This framework of illegalities within the military also implies that they “could solve political differences using arms, which is inadmissible,” she said.

The Venezuelan National Assembly refused to discuss the alleged presence of active military officials in the FAN when the issue was put forward by opposition lawmaker Juan José Molina on May 14, according to the Caracas daily El Universal.

PSUV legislator Juan José Mendoza rejected the proposal for a debate on the matter, saying he finds “no evidence” of the presence of active military officers in the PSUV.

“This is a campaign to discredit,” said Mendoza, as quoted by El Universal. “These past few weeks, sectors of the opposition have been insistently vilifying the FAN.”

San Miguel verified her findings by using a list of FAN officials she had requested from the Defense Ministry so she could check the names against those registered with the PSUV.

San Miguel, who wants the officials she’s identified removed from the military and subjected to disciplinary proceedings, also confirmed her findings by scrutinizing the CNE portal list that had allowed PSUV militants to enter their identity card numbers as part of the voting process for the primaries on May 2.

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