Where is the enemy? Analysis of the border with Colombia
By Marco Teruggi: The Table
Illustration: Fiesky Rivas
Translated by Les Blough, Axis of Logic
Thursday, Sep 7, 2017
A country moves beneath itself. We have seen it emerge for three months, then sink like stone into the dark water. It did not leave. It exists there, moves, reorganizes, accumulates forces for a new moment. The hypothesis is the following: it is concentrated in the State of Táchira, Venezuela and in the border axis, the rear zone that is in turn the point from which they launched and - surely - will launch new offensives as this scenario develops. They will wait for conditions to be right, or as the policy directs they will seek to create the necessary conditions. Several indications lead to this conclusion.
In the first place, a temporary event. While in Caracas the street offensive abruptly decreased after July 25 and simultaneously increased in Táchira, where they concentrated their strength which was previously deployed in several parts of the country. Those were days of frontal attacks, entire towns under siege led by four actors: the paramilitaries, the delinquents, members of the right wing – mainly the political party under the name, “Popular Will” - and the social base of the opposition. All are assigned different tasks with a common plan, that of making impossible the realization of elections for the new Constituent Assembly and of raising greater levels of violence, to make it impossible for the government to maintain public order and democratic freedom. They thought Tachira was the territory they could break and concentrated their attacks there.
In the second place, a developed offensive that has been managed for years.
Paramilitary forces have been installed along the municipalities bordering Colombia. This was demonstrated in March of this year when the government disarmed one of their camps with nodules in the Táchira state economy and their smuggling of gasoline, food, medicines, Venezuelan bolivares (currency) and their primary markets for fruits and vegetables. The latter was evidenced when armed groups prevented loaded trucks from leaving during that conflict. Their design for territorial control is born of an economic plan, war, and reorganization of social life in those sectors with the power of arms.
Third, a border of thousands of miles. On the other side of the border are US military bases, the Colombian Military Forces and the Colombian paramilitary cells. There is a connection between all: behind the arms and ammunition of the paramilitaries is not only smuggling of contraband, but also the American plan that includes financing and design.
Perhaps the intervention announced by Donald Trump has already begun through those irregular forces operating in the shadows, without uniforms, nor visible identification and a word spoken in public. Is it the embryo of the irregular army that they need? Their development seems to be focused in that area, where they have money, levels of territorial roots, arms supplies and men from Colombia. How many thousands of paramilitaries exist in Colombia? What is their armed capacity? In the months of the conflict they showed their long arms, weapons of war.
Fourth, the characteristics of the Tachira state. For the reasons mentioned, it could be the place where the attempt to create a scheme of "liberated territory" under the political control of the counterrevolution through the paramilitary wing and not in silence; rather with a public identity, an attempt to break the territorial unity of the State. Do they have the material strength to take sustained action of this magnitude? During those three months of violence they did not seem to have that force. Is it developing at the moment, in particular after the failure of the recent insurrection and with a possible electoral defeat in October? Do they have it, but haven’t yet shown it?
This is an army’s attempt by troops made up of poor Colombo/ Venezuelans serving the interests of the United States, transnational corporations, the bourgeoisie and national oligarchies. A paramilitary force that feeds on money and drugs; Hollywood’s depiction of Latin American culture, the misery that devours young people and makes them mercenaries in ranks of armed counterrevolutionary structures. They put their lives at the service of those who will then seek to keep the riches of the country. Because that is the debate of every age: who are those left with the wealth produced by society, and to whom will it be denied?
In the case of Venezuela the dispute is all or nothing and it is happening today. And while the armed enemy has returned into the silent underground at the national level - not so at the border where clashes with the Bolivarian National Armed Forces are reported.
Meanwhile, the main enemy in Washington has emerged with clarity and has openly given the word in public. Military threats, economic sanctions to bring the country to default, continental diplomatic deployment, all weapons are on the table. Although, as Fernando Travieso analyzes, there is another enemy behind the main enemy, who operates in anonymity and in the global crime of wealth at the cost of poverty: the oil companies, managed in turn by large families gathered in the Vanguard investment fund.
What plan do they have for regaining control of the wealth? The scheme could be as follows: lead the country into economic bankruptcy through default by means of the sanctions, a situation that would aggravate the current plight of the population, a picture that would be accompanied by the attempt to trigger looting that they would in turn try to convert into insurrectional assaults with terrorist methods of the paramilitary groups, beginning with an attempt to gain control of Táchira. Such a plan could have a resolution in the nationwide gubernatorial elections in October - in which the right wing is uncertain certain of electoral results - or the plan could be an intermediate confrontation with the aim of producing chaos in the country. The plan contains various levels: a wearing down of your opponent, direct attacks and one of reconfiguring society. What would be the role of the paramilitary arm if the political right wing regained control?
They have limitations. One of them is that the violence deployed between April and July this year left an opposition leadership with little legitimacy. Another is that chavismo moves on the international chess board, particularly in its alliances with Russia and China.
This kind of analysis contemplates the enemy as an exclusively external force. Apart from the obvious case of the Attorney General [Luisa Ortega], the situation in which we are immersed suggests there is no clear cut division between chavismo and those outside it.
Particularly, in studying the economic situation, as the overall wealth of the country has been diminishing, the popular classes have been watching their living conditions deteriorate week after week and month after month.
This economic picture favors the advance of the enemy as it allows him to gain positions on both, the national and international stage. Why haven’t decisions been made in this area as they have been in the political arena? Regarding imports two questions are, (1) What interests are at stake with companies who don’t produce results while the numbers, data and creditors are not opened to the public and (2) Why is the border is so difficult to seal even when it is formally closed?
That critical knot condenses the point of union between the external enemies of the revolution and its internal allies. Alliances that may be only economic, but inevitably have an impact on the political outcome.
We are now in the time of a new political initiative from chavismo. At the same time, the enemy reorganizes its ranks, organizes its paramilitary assets on the border, works on the economic loss of the population and shuffles all possible cards. How long will this situation last? It is time to move forward. But when?
Marco Teruggi: The Table
Illustration: Fiesky Rivas
Translated by Les Blough, Axis of Logic
Where is the enemy? Analysis of the border with Colombia / Marco Teruggi
- September 1, 2017
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