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Saturday, July 26, 2014

WikiLeaks: New reports detail discontent, fear in Venezuelan military

Antonio Maria Delgado
Miami Herald

President Hugo Chávez’s illness has deepened the internal fissures of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, an institution that never integrated into one unique block of support of the Bolivarian Revolution and whose members have for months shown signs of concern and discontent, according to internal reports by the private intelligence firm Stratfor leaked by WikiLeaks.

The report, which are part of the firm’s more than five million emails that WikiLeaks revealed this week, show Chávez’s concern over the growing signs of discontent coming from the military.

“HCF [Hugo Chávez Frías] is worried,” says one of the Stratfor reports written in August for one of their clients.

“The discontent at the military barracks is a fact. Rumors that several high-ranking officers could have asked the president to step down due to illness have been spreading since last week […]. There is an internal issue of loyalty, fatigue, fear of the future and of the loss of privileges.”

The report said the the situation in the Armed Forces is difficult to measure due to multiple factors, including that that the sector was always not pleased as a homogeneous block.

Inside the Armed Forces, for example, there are those who have benefited greatly from the Bolivarian Revolution, including many of the officers who accompanied Chávez in his 1992 coup attempt.

“The high-ranking officers who have enjoyed the economic benefits of this administration tend to be really worried” about Chávez’s illness, the report said before adding that these officers have so far gravitated to two approaches.

In one, they have made efforts to try to scare the opposition through statements and threats. In the other, by attempts to negotiate with the opposition, “which some of them have already started to do.”

Such efforts may have begun amid the growing signs that Chávez’s illness is much more serious than what he has let on.

The Venezuelan president, who had surgery in Cuba early this week, had assured Venezuelans until a few days ago that he was cured of the cancer he revealed in June.

That version was changed in mid-February, when the president admitted the detection of a “lesion” in the same place where a malignant tumor was removed, with a likelihood that the cancer had reappeared.

Press report, however, indicate that Chávez suffers from quite an aggressive cancer already in an extremely advanced stage, with a life prognosis lower than two years. The government has consistently rejected these versions, but officials have offered very little details of the illness.

The Stratfor report indicated that not all in the military are worried about preserving the regime and highlighted that there is a sector that has been upset by the presence of Cuban officials within their military institution.

The report added that inside the Armed Forces there are also officers who are more inclined toward a right-wing political model.

“There are enough reasons to find discontent inside the military sector without [the military] necessarily being seduced by the opposition,” the report said.

“However, this does not mean that the opposition is not taking advantage of the discontent,” it added.

Another report shows that members of the Armed Forces have begun to seek contacts with the United States, including agents who work for Stratfor.

“Guess who has been cooperating with us lately? The military elite. These guys have been living the good life. They love women […] many of them. They love liquor,” said a wire written on Dec. 5, 2011 by the woman who directs analysis in the firm, Reva Bhalla.

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