Venezuelan military alarmed by the fast physical deterioration of President Hugo Chavez have worked out an emergency plan to be implemented, including the suspension of basic constitutional rights, at the slightest sign of political agitations, said the former US ambassador before the OAS, Roger Noriega.
The plan elaborated by some military officers allegedly linked to the drug trade, according to US law enforcement agencies, attempts to ensure the survival of the regime even if the charismatic leader disappears from the scene, added Spanish speaking Noriega who quotes military and political circles in Caracas as his reliable sources.
“The imminent death of the leader could put the country in the path to social and political collapse. The military cupola named by Chavez last January is already behaving as if it were a de facto regime, “determined to preserve power at all costs”, said Noriega.
“These men will never hand over power and the impunity implicit since they have no illusions about next October’s elections…and prefer to trust in the billions of dollars and the tens of thousands of soldiers under their command”, added Noriega who was Assistant Secretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs under the previous republican administration of President George Bush.
Noriega quoting sources close to Chavez said the leader’s medical team has opted to stabilize the patient, given his serious condition, by submitting him to radio and chemotherapy as a last resource. But the gravity of the situation was revealed by Chavez himself when during Mass on Holy Week the president prayed for a miracle to extend his life.
Noriega insisted that the anguish and despair of Chavez during those days surprised even his closes circle of aides and convinced the military to iron out the details of the plan
The former US official and expert in Latin American issues says that the inner circle of Chavez behave as “if the was already dead” working to ensure measures to consolidate their grip and name a “Revolutionary Junta” that is prepared to undertake ‘repressive’ measures if needed to contain any surprises.
These efforts according to Noriega are being implemented by Diosdado Cabello, a very capable political operator named by Chavez to lead the National Assembly and the ruling party.
“The naming of Cabello was targeted to calm a powerful group of military officers linked to the drugs trade which includes General Rangel Silva; Cliver Alcalá, chief of intelligence; general Hugo Carvajal and another half dozen of top brass identified by US justice as the heads of the drugs trade”, points out Noriega.
This group represents the hard core of “Chavism” in the Venezuelan armed forces which lately has pushed aside the civilian wing made up of Foreign Secretary Nicolas Maduro, Vice-President Elías Jaua and the president’s brother Adan Chavez and which apparently is prepared to re-float the ideological agenda of the Chavez followers in October’s election.
Maduro described as extremely loyal to the president “is considered the most viable candidate to replace Chavez in the presidential ticket next October, but first must overcome the military barrier”.
“My sources tell me that Cabello and company are more willing to appeal to unconstitutional measures and repression if they manage to obtain international support from Moscow and Beijing. This obviously by providing cheap oil to ensure their control of power”, concludes Noriega.