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Daily Israel Report

Chavez Celebrates Abortive Coup 20 Years Ago, Claims Army Is His

Hugo Chavez celebrated his abortive coup of twenty years ago and proclaimed identity between himself and the army.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 2/6/2012, 5:33 AM

In this election year in Venezuela, the country has just celebrated 4F.

4F is shorthand  for the Fourth of February twenty years ago, when President go Chavez staged his unsuccessful coup. Chavez, then a Lieutenant, Colonel was imprisoned ,but he came to public attention as a person who would bring down the oligarchy. Six years later he was able to successfully run for president, a position he has not relinquished ever since.

Fighting cancer and perhaps his strongest opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski, the coup tradition may be a way for Chavez to convey that regardless of the electoral outcome, the Army could assure the continuation of his legacy " The Armed Force has Chávez in its heart and Chávez has the Armed Force in his heart and soul."

In addition to the Armed Forces, who will defend Chavez' Bolivarian Revolution, the government has also created pro-government paramilitary groups for the same purpose. By some estimates, they now total 150,000 members.

One of the groups, called the La Piedrita Collective, set off a scandal this week. This group, based in a Chavez stronghold in West Caracas, displayed photographs of children armed with AR-15 assault rifles. This was an embarrassment for the regime because it highlighted the country's law and order problems. The annual number of murders was 4551 when Chavez took office in 1998.  it has now ballooned to 19,336 in 2011. In addition to murders the country is victimized by kidnappings including the abduction of foreign diplomats.

In response Chavez blamed the affair on CIA infiltration of the organization. Chavez' Minister of Interior and Justice Tarek El Aissami pledged an investigation into the photographs, because the handling of guns by children stunted their development and violated the "moral principles" of the Chavez Constitution.

Roger F Noriega, a former Assistant Secretary of State and ambassador to the Organization of American States under the Bush administration, identifies in the current issue of Commentary,  two Associates of the Justice and Interior Ministers, the brothers Ghazi and Abdallah Nassereddine, as prominent Hizbullah supporters and facilitators of that organization's money-laundering schemes.

The former is the Venezuelan Ambassador to Syria while the latter is in charge of Hizbullah recruitment. Under the patronage of these naturalized Lebanese immigrants Venezuela has become a center for the terrorist group.

With the Army, the paramilitaries and Hizbullah having a stake in the Chavez regime, the question of what will happen in the event of an opposition victory arises.  Will it translate into effective control or will Venezuela shortly be celebrating another cool snuffing out the opposition?