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Venezuela's Chavez new task: “Mission Frontier”

By Veneconomy

Last week, VenEconomy commented on a report by the UPI according to which the government of Venezuela is negotiating the purchase of 50 sophisticated combat aircraft at a cost of $5 billion, a not inconsiderable sum for a country where levels of poverty have reached more than 60%.

There is so much that could be done for the country with $5 billion, building and properly equipping hospitals and schools to improve the quality of health care and education for Venezuelans, for example. But instead of that, huge amounts of money are being allocated to the purchase of weaponry for the military that is if little use to them in carrying out their primary mission, which is to safeguard the country’s borders.

Under the Chávez administration, the military have been put to performing tasks that have nothing to do with them, assuming functions that go from presiding over state-owned companies to running street markets for the low-income sectors of the population.

And the truth of the matter is that, while they are busily engaged in all that, the National Armed Force and Venezuela are losing the battle of maintaining control of the frontier. Most of the frontier zones in the west of the country are under the control of Colombian guerrilla groups, and the National Armed Force seems to be either incapable or unwilling to secure these areas.

Last Friday, a group of the FARC, identified by Colombia’s Defense Minister and the Venezuelan investigative police, ambushed a group of PDVSA’s engineers and geologists just as they were crossing the River Apure near the Colombian border (about 30 km from Guasdualito). Six people were killed (five soldiers and one environmental engineer from PDVSA). On Sunday, two more groups of three bodies each were found; the victims had apparently been executed.

These lamentable events confirm the uncertain security conditions prevailing in the area, while President Chávez is doing all he can to acquire a fleet of MiGs “to defend the Panama Canal.”

The few troops that the National Armed Force still has along the frontier are inadequately trained and poorly equipped, with the result that they are unable to compete with the guerrilla forces swarming all over frontier zones, as they are more experienced, have more modern equipment and are better financed.

Despite all this, “the guerrillas are not enemies” of the Venezuelan state, according to Chávez. This could explain why the government is neglecting the main mission of the National Armed Force, on the one hand, and on the other, is spinning fantasies of glory and world conquest in a misguided war.

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