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What is going on with Venezuela's AK-47 purchase?

By Veneconomy

29.03.05 | A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. government announced that it would be launching an information campaign in Latin America to warn of the danger that the Venezuelan government’s revolutionary model represents for the region. It looks as though this campaign is now under way. Last week in Brasilia, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made manifest his concern over the consequences for the hemisphere if Venezuela were to go ahead with the purchase of 100,000 Russian Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles. Rumsfeld thus publicly expressed the fear of the U.S. authorities that these weapons could end up in the hands of the FARC, the ELN, and other terrorist groups.

It is more than likely that, in private, the Secretary of Defense provided details confirming that the true intention of the Hugo Chávez administration is to share weapons with subversive groups in neighboring countries and with groups that are in agreement with his revolutionary ideals. One such detail could be the fact that there are four models of Kalashnikov rifles, two of which are being used by the OTAN and other armies in different parts of the world, and two that are already obsolete and more than 20 years behind the times, technologically, which are being used by some third world armies and a large number of terrorist and subversive groups.

To everyone’s surprise, Venezuela is acquiring the two obsolete models, which are compatible with rifles used by the FARC, the ELN, and other subversive groups, and, what is more, it is buying 100,000 rifles, 20,000 more than necessary, given that the National Armed Force has only 80,000 members. These two facts are viewed by observers as an indication that the Venezuelan government is thinking of sharing weapons with subversive groups in the region.

Moreover, since 2001, CAVIM, the agency in charge of Venezuela’s military industry, has been producing munitions for modern-technology rifles, in anticipation of the purchase of new weapons. The purchase of an obsolete model is detrimental to the State for two reasons, because the amounts invested by CAVIM to date will be lost and because CAVIM will now have to adapt its production line to the new type of weapons.

Some analysts are concerned about how the authorities will dispose of the munitions that will have to be discarded. Others are of the view that the only advantage of having purchased weapons of this type and not weapons of advanced technology, as would have been more logical, seems to be that the AK-47s are compatible with the rifles used by subversive groups in the region, so reinforcing fears regarding the final destination of the AK-47s, fears expressed by the Bush administration in a variety of scenarios. In addition to all this is the uncertainty surrounding what will become of to the National Armed Force’s FALs once they are withdrawn from its inventory. Will they be used by the militias that are being formed?

VenEconomy shares few of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s points of view, but this time it seems as though he is right.

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