by Tamara Pearson
July 17, 2012 (TSR) – Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles gave a speech directed at Venezuela’s army, then posted a forged document online suggesting that the government was censuring the speech, in what president Hugo Chavez has said is part of a plan to “divide” the armed forces.
Capriles posted the forged document on his Twitter accounton Thursday, writing,“The government and its candidate have emitted a radiogram prohibiting our military barracks from turning on the television tonight” with a photo of the forged radiogram. That same night he broadcast a pre-recorded three minute message to the military on private channels Globovision, Televen, and Venevision.
The document supposedly ordered the “explicit and absolute prohibition …to watch any television programming” of “Globovision, Televen, and Venevision or any private radio” to the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB).
The person on Capriles’ team who forged the document took an original, written last year, and erased some parts and replaced them with others. The new false radiogram then is dated in the future, 31 July 2012. It is also signed by the defence minister at the time of the original document, Carlos Mata, rather than the current minister of defence, Henry Rangel. Further, the opposition changed the classification on the forged document from “not classified” to “confidential” but forgot to change the sign (NOCLAS) just below it, which also means “not classified”.
According to Chavez speaking on television on Friday, and photographic evidence, the original document referred to a decision regarding uniforms for a performance. It was written by the defence ministry on 1 September 2011, and is identified by control number 4,926, which the opposition didn’t change on their forged document.
“It’s nothing new that [the opposition] forges documents and invents things that never happened. This is part of a strategy, which beyond this particular case, is an attack against the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and it’s going to continue,” Chavez said yesterday.
Chavez argued that the opposition is “founded on trickery and … manipulation to divide the Armed Forces… the oligarchy is worried about the FANB’s unity as well as the high level of cohesion among the high ranking officers… they are worried about the morale and revolution that there is in the armed forces”.
Capriles has not responded to the accusations of forgery, only stating, “Threats and intimidation won’t rob us of energy or time” to questions about it from a journalist.
In his Thursday broadcast to the FANB, Capriles argued that should he win the presidential elections in October “and then become commander in chief of the FANB” (as Chavez is currently, though such a nomination is not automatic), he would be sure to well equip the army.
“We’ve been listening to what our National Armed Forces [sic: National Bolivarian Armed Forces] are feeling, and it is clear that they… suffer the same problems as other Venezuelans…I commit to approving a new social security system for the Armed Forces…as commander in chief I will never allow the interference of other countries in the FAN [sic: FANB],” he said, referring to unsupported allegations by the opposition that Cuba has been assisting the FANB.
In response Chavez said, “The bourgeoisie … are scared of us because of the [coup attempt on] 4 February 1992. The bourgeois candidate sent a message to the armed forces, yet he doesn’t have the faintest idea what a soldier is…. just a few weeks ago [Capriles] was making fun of our submarines and saying why are we buying planes, and now … he’s saying that he cares about the army being well equipped”.
Chavez studied in the military academy then entered the military between 1971 and 1992, when together with the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement; he attempted a coup against the neoliberal president, Carlos Andres Perez.
He argued that both the forgery and the message are part of a “strategy” to “divide the armed forces… and [such attacks] are going to get worse, because it’s part of their formula to weaken [us], and the best way is to divide and conquer.”
Yesterday Chavez appointed Wilmer Barrientos and Carlos Alcala as strategic operational commanders of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and the National Bolivarian Army, respectively. This means Barrientos will be in charge of the Republic Plan, the security plan to protect the elections. Both men formed part of military groups which participated in the 1992 coup attempt with Chavez.
“Today… we’re seeing in Venezuela what real, participative, protagonistic democracy is, and the military can’t be outside of that. In the process of construction of the country we [the military] are not disconnected from it,” Chavez said during Saturday’s ceremony.
Under the previous government, “the armed forces were at the service of the … elites, [and] corruption… now the FANB is at the service of the whole country, at the service of the people,” he concluded.
Originally published in Venezuela Analysis.