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The Venezuelan civilian-military union

Reaction and revolution in Latin America: the Venezuelan civilian-military union
The consolidation of the Venezuelan civilian-military union has been key to defeating U.S. led coup attempts. The revolution is holding its ground, not only in Venezuela but throughout the region

Arnold Augustmay 22, 2020 10:05:22

The Venezuelan people are prepared to defend their country. Photo: Sputnik
In October 2019, when a wave of protest swept over Chile, President Sebastián Piñera called out the army, invoking the “state of emergency” clause of the Constitution. The image of soldiers in the streets and the enforcement of curfew immediately evoked a dark history. Since then, the majority of the bloody repression has been carried out by the national police, which has been reporting to the military commanders in Santiago, Valparaíso and other cities under the state of emergency.

These situations are oppressive not only for Latin America but also for countries like Canada, where Pinochet remains part of the collective memory handed down by a progressive generation that opposed his horror to its descendants. The experience also remains vivid in the minds of the many Canadians and Quebecers of Chilean origin who had to flee the Pinochet dictatorship.

Simultaneously, in Colombia as in Chile, uprisings and strikes have had to confront the armed forces, either directly or indirectly.

In Brazil, the peoples’ resistance to the right-wing Bolsonaro government has been ubiquitous since he won the 2018 elections, following the imprisonment of his main opponent, Lula da Silva.

In Bolivia, the scenario was different: the United States and its allies, backed by the army, fomented a coup d’état based on the lie that Evo Morales’s election had been fraudulent. It is known that the chief army officials involved in the coup were trained at the School of the Americas in the United States.

The experiences of Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia all stand in stark contrast to that of Venezuela. Indeed, they are poles apart: reaction on the one hand, revolution on the other. It is not that the United States has not attempted to subvert the Venezuelan Armed Forces; indeed, much effort has been expended to try and turn them into a replica of their counterparts in those countries where reaction has dominated. The effort has not succeeded.

What is the explanation? Let us compare these different cases. In an online interview, Claude Morin, a professor retired from the Department of History at the Université de Montréal and possibly the most important Latin Americanist in Quebec, stated that the Colombian army is composed of soldiers trained to fight an insurgency, to kill guerrillas and commit massacres against any communities that may be inclined to support them. The recruits have been conditioned to perform these tasks; that is, to see people and civilians as a threat. The officers have been trained with manuals from the US School of the Americas. Continue reading The Venezuelan civilian-military union