Lollo is a journalist and video maker, who because of his activity in the Italian revolutionary left, had to live in exile from 1975 to 2010. This article was published in tlaxcala-int.org, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity, in Italian and Portuguese on April 3 and in English on April 5. Translation by WW Managing Editor John Catalinotto.
“Operation Constitution” [planned by the U.S. and the Venezuelan right wing] ended with [self-proclaimed presidential pretender] Juan Guaidó’s miserable and silent return to Caracas and the capture of the four commanders of the ragtag “Venezuelan Liberation Army” (1).
[But] currently, in the Tona region in the Colombian department of Santander, the “antennas” of the CIA and the Colombian officers of the Combined Military Intelligence and Counterintelligence-J2 continue preparations to set up a subversive “focus” in the Venezuelan states of Tachira, Zulia, Amazonas and Apure. The [CIA’s] aim is to promote a civil war, which would then involve Colombia and therefore the immediate military intervention of the United States.
Based on this [plan], on March 4, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence returned to the attack, recalling: “President Donald Trump continues firmly convinced of the urgent need to depose the government led by Nicolás Maduro, even with a military solution (2) and without international authorization.”
Colombian generals dissent from U.S. plan
This scandalous statement was not appreciated even by the lackeys of the Lima Group (3), which again saw dissent from the Brazilian and Argentinian generals and also the disagreement of many Colombian senior officers.
In fact, on Feb. 25, the vice president of Brazil, Gen. Hamilton Mourão, present at the meeting of the Lima Group held in the Colombian capital, Bogota, reaffirmed to the amazed Mike Pence the contrary position of the Brazilian military. General Mourão himself had earlier announced support, for the first time on Jan. 23, immediately after [Donald Trump’s] coronation of Juan Guaidó with the title of “Interim President.”
[Mourão’s later dissenting] pronouncement undermined the White House’s belligerent stance, since Mourão, who at that time held the presidency in the absence of President Jair Bolsonaro, ruled: “Brazil and its armed forces will not meddle in Venezuela’s internal politics.”
The position expressed by Mourão at the meeting of the Lima Group influenced the position of the Argentine generals, who, despite the warlike statements of Argentinian President Macri, categorically pointed out: “The Argentinean armed forces could only integrate a peacekeeping mission to Venezuela if it were voted for and authorized by the United Nations Assembly.”
In the Colombian capital — where the political climate is increasingly complex due to the economic crisis and the permanent state of instability caused by corruption and drug trafficking — the hugs and handshakes of President Iván Duque Márquez with Vice President Mike Pence have not convinced the generals of [that country’s] General Staff. After the 10-year tragic experience of [the U.S.-instigated] “Plan Colombia,” no Colombian officer and soldier wants to risk their lives in a difficult “jungle war,” especially with Venezuela.
U.S. SouthCom defines military attack as ‘risky’
In fact, only the explosion of a destructive [Venezuelan] civil war, which threatened to damage [that country’s] oil infrastructure (wells, refineries and ports of embarkation), could convince the U.S. Congress of the need to intervene militarily in Venezuela and authorize the generals of the Pentagon to carry out a “surgical attack” against Venezuela.
Such an attack Admiral Craig Faller, head of the Southern Command of the U.S. Armed Forces, defined as “risky” last October at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Defense, because “the Bolivarian army is structured horizontally, with about 2,000 generals commanding and controlling the different sectors of territorial defense.”
In an interview with BBC News Mundo, Galen Carpenter, analyst of the conservative Cato Institute and specialist in international military issues, underlined the risks: “Although there may be reasons for internal division, it is certain that most of the Bolivarian army forces will mobilize to repel the invasion.”
Venezuelan armed forces ready
This argument does not surprise the officers of the Venezuelan National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB). In fact, in 2018 Venezuelan Gen. Jacinto Pérez Arcay (4), immediately after the decision of the Bolivarian government to replace the dollar with the Chinese yuan in oil sales operations, presented to the General Staff of the FANB and to President Maduro himself, a detailed study on the possible operations SouthCom might carry out to pave the way for a land invasion by U.S. troops.
According to Pérez Arcay and other sources of FANB military intelligence,
“[T]he first war operation of SouthCom would be a surgical attack with planes and missiles against the air bases of Palo Negro and Barcelona and against the naval base of Puerto Cabello.”
As former Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis declared, such a surgical aerial attack must be carried out on all military objectives in Venezuela without suffering any loss in order to cause the dissolution of the organization of the Venezuelan army and encourage the possible arrival of U.S. Marines with the function of “pacifying” and not fighting
For Mattis, the organic dissolution of the FANB has always been the sine qua non condition to complete the invasion of Venezuela and establish a new government quickly and without serious losses. For this reason, Mattis always warned President Donald Trump that “without this condition the attack could become a tragic adventure.”
According to some analysts, this position, repeatedly iterated by Mattis, was one cause for his dismissal from the position of Secretary of Defense by President Trump. Generals H.R. McMaster, John Kelly and Michael Flynn, all hired and then fired by the president, had real quarrels with Donald Trump because of the political and military issues related to the Venezuelan issue.
War in the hands of the CIA
Consequently, Mike Pompeo — the gray eminence in the Trump government — without the binding opinion of the generals, was able to give the CIA absolute responsibility for the planning and implementation of all the subversive operations [deemed] necessary to cause a deep and destructive crisis in Venezuela, capable of destroying the resilience of Nicolás Maduro’s government.
Having received the clear support of many “democratic” countries of the European Union, the Trump government has tripled the so-called “fund for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela,” which now exceeds $120 million. On top of these are the funds for the “top secret operations” of the CIA in Venezuela, which according to rumors are estimated at eight hundred million dollars for the current year alone.
On this basis, the CIA has been able to strengthen its collaboration with the Brazilian and Colombian secret services and with [those countries’] military intelligence sectors, in order to understand what is happening within Venezuela. In fact, for Langley’s [CIA headquarters] analysts it is important to know to what extent the different sectors of the opposition are still credible, what kind of mobilizations they would be able to carry out, and whether the conditions and the ability to create an “urban subversive focus” exist in the main cities of Venezuela, at the same time as paramilitary groups would orchestrate a “rural subversive focus” in the Venezuelan states bordering Colombia.
U.S. cybernetic terrorism underway
The division within the [Venezuelan rightwing] opposition after the adventure of Juan Guaidó and the consequent inactivity of those opposing parties have pushed the CIA to resort to the action of cybernetic terrorism, which remains the only element of active conflict of this hybrid war, and which is increasingly isolated from the masses in political terms, including among the middle class.
In the last 30 days, cybernetic terrorism has caused serious damage to the [Venezuelan] economy with various sabotage of electricity supply centers and transmission lines. On March 7, the first national power outage was recorded; it lasted 60 hours, paralyzing all computer networks in the country.
This sabotage, however, failed to reduce the confidence of the majority of the population in [their] government. On the contrary, the “power outage” has caused greater discredit to the Venezuelan opposition parties, especially those who support the need for immediate political change and who use all forms of struggle, including violent ones. For this reason, and to mask the political failure, President Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo re-raised the flag of the military solution and stimulated psychological warfare by the [U.S.] media, hoping to resurrect the opposition (5).
U.S. plans ‘hybrid war’ to control Latin America
At this point, the political situation in Venezuela raises three questions:
- Why do President Donald Trump and the neocon group, even though they know that the opposition is practically delegitimized, insist on urgently and at all costs deposing President Maduro’s government?
- Why did Mike Pompeo consider the subversive project formulated by the CIA (the progressive economic destruction of Venezuela) to be “interesting”?
- Why did [U.S. National Security Advisor] John Bolton dismiss the opinion of the Pentagon generals. According to them the development of subversive actions would strengthen Maduro’s position and the role of the Bolivarian army, annulling the peacemaking mission of U.S. Marines and the possibility of “re-establishing democracy” without incurring casualties?
To answer these questions it is necessary to resort to the analyses of some political scientists specializing in “geostrategy of the dominant blocks.”
In August 2018, Brazilian professor José Luis Da Costa Fiori (6) published an article in which he analyzed the new role of the so-called “hybrid war” as an integral part of the geostrategic policy of the government of Donald Trump. [This strategy is] understood as an extreme attempt to impose U.S. control over all states of the Latin American continent through a war of low intensity.
For Professor Fiori, the term “hybrid war” identifies the evolution of the traditional U.S. military solution (bombing and invasion by Marines) or the historic U.S. attempt at a coup d’état with a “Fourth Generation War.”
In this, the State Department, the CIA and the White House coordinate a simultaneous series of attacks (economic, legal, financial, diplomatic, media, political, psychological, subversive and cybernetic), with the aim of destabilizing the government of President Maduro, demobilizing the Chavista movement and, above all, tearing apart the Bolivarian armed forces.
Why is U.S. waging ‘hybrid war’ now?
A key element of this “hybrid war” was the urgency of Donald Trump’s imperialist government to set in motion [within Venezuela] a complex multiplicity of subversive elements of “low-intensity war.” The main [U.S.] objective was to carry out an apparent spontaneous popular rebellion, capable of absorbing the main branches of the army and the most dynamic workers’ sectors of the state energy and oil companies.
The most obvious example [of this] was the failed “Operation Constitution.”
The government of Donald Trump, after the Bolivarian government succeeded in circumventing most of the financial sanctions, played the card of “interim president,” hoping that the [Venezuelan rightwing] opposition would be able to achieve a “color revolution” [which occurred in some Soviet states in the 2000s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union] and impose a new government totally dependent on the White House and the multinationals.
In reality, the CIA, the State Department and the White House tried to carry out a second “Operation Maidan” south of the Equator (7). That code name was used for the subversive project by which the CIA and the U.S. State Department overthrew the government of Ukraine.
The failure of the [“Operation Constitution”] project exacerbates more and more the criticism from the U.S. oil companies linked to Rex Tillerson, a manager of the multinational Chevron, who was hired and then fired by President Trump [from the position of Secretary of State].
Pressure from U.S. oil companies and the dollar
The discontent of U.S. oil companies is due to the fact that without the 1.3 million barrels of Venezuelan oil, they are now forced to import from Saudi Arabia at higher prices. All refineries in Texas used Venezuelan oil before the sanctions decreed by Trump against PDVSA [Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company].
But Trump’s sanctions did not paralyze PDVSA’s production, as OPEC fixed new production quotas with higher prices. China and India immediately signed new purchase contracts with PDVSA, buying all the quantities of oil that were previously destined for the U.S. through CITGO Petroleum Corporation. It should be noted that PDVSA’s new contracts were not signed in dollars but in yuan, the Chinese currency used these days by Russia, China and India in bilateral trade.
The use of the yuan, as well as the cryptocurrency created by the Bolivarian government, is the real reason for the White House’s geostrategic urgency to destabilize Maduro’s government. This type of trade transaction helps weaken the power of the dollar in world financial markets.
Iraq, Libya — and China
It is also imperative to remember the U.S. war of aggression against Iraq, as well as the war against Libya. These [were initiated] when Saddam Hussein and then Muammar al-Gaddafi tried to [move their countries’ financial basis] away from the dollar. They sold U.S. debt securities to buy gold, silver, diamonds and then used the euros as a base currency in the sale of oil and gas.
We must not forget that 15 days before the “humanitarian” attack on Libya by NATO planes [March 2011], the Bank of England appropriated Libya’s gold reserve, denying President Gaddafi the right to transfer it to the Central Bank of Tripoli. It may be a coincidence, but the Venezuelan government also suffered the same “expropriation” by the Bank of England, when President Maduro requested the repatriation of the gold reserve of Venezuela, deposited in that bank since the 1970s.
The last [basis] for the urgency of the “hybrid war” concerns U.S. attempts to interrupt the presence of Chinese and Indian companies in Venezuela. That presence guarantees the Bolivarian state new forms of wealth by exploiting numerous mineral deposits, in particular those of coltan and gold (8), and the realization of large infrastructure projects.
This presence, above all that of China, the White House considers a danger, since all over Latin America China’s companies provide a possible alternative to the rigid rules imposed by the International Monetary Fund and by the U.S. and European multinationals. These companies also present enviable technological solutions that break the hegemony of the Wall Street conglomerates.
The fighting preparation of FANB
Immediately after the failed 2002 [U.S.-backed] coup d’état in Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez implemented a great geostrategic reform and restructuring of the national defense system.
That action was considered by all successive administrations in the White House an authentic act of war. The military strengthening of the Venezuelan armed forces, coordinated by Commander Chávez himself, [was met] with conflict which the United States government has accentuated in the last 10 years. With the government of Donald Trump, this latent conflict [has] turned into a silent low-intensity war.
However, the main reason that prompted the Pentagon generals to consider the Bolivarian state “as irrecoverable as the Cuban state” is strategic as well as military.
The new concepts of territorial defense and the new mechanisms of military organization that President Hugo Chávez introduced into the Venezuelan armed forces wiped out with [unbelievable] speed the organizational methodologies and theoretical concepts imported from the military academies of the United States.
Commander Chávez emulated Cuba
In the 1960s, the Venezuelan army was considered the Pentagon’s star pupil and presented as the model for all the armies of the South American continent.
However, Commander Chávez — following the experience of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR)– modified the entire structure of the defense system, in addition to its theoretical foundations. Chávez invested several billion dollars to buy new technologically more advanced weapons and equip all units, including the “Milicia,” with a system of the latest generation of communications. [The Milicia Bolivariana (MB) is a peoples’ militia of civilians and exmilitary.]
This war materiel, much produced by Russian companies immediately after the end of the Cold War, exceeds the war efficiency of many military industries in the U.S. or the EU countries. This is the case with Sukhoi fighter bombers and especially the S-300VM Air Defense Radar and Missile System, produced by the Russian company Antey-Almaz.
The most important element of the geostrategic and military reform of Chávez was not only the introduction of new technologically advanced weapons, but, above all, the structuring of the war potential on new lines of defense drawn in the country. The great innovation was the creation of the Command of Integral Aerospace Defense (CODAI), the operational branch of defense subordinated in a direct line to the Operational Strategic Command with headquarters in Caracas.
Revolutionary Bolivarian soldiers
With the application of a new conception of territorial defense, understood as a fundamental element of the political alliance of the armed forces with the people, it was easy to transform the old army — subject to the despotic intentions of the oligarchies — into a genuine popular army in permanent mobility to defend the sovereignty and legitimacy of the Bolivarian government.
This condition allowed the rapid intellectual and political growth of the corps of officers and conscripts, promoting the formation of a national Bolivarian militia, perfectly armed and organized to integrate the system of national territorial defense at the side of the FANB.
As in the Cuban FAR and in all armies created to defend a revolutionary perspective, the element that most distinguishes the FANB organization and structure is, without doubt, the political combat preparation. This transforms the soldier and the officer into an active political subject, who is immediately present in the evolution of the social and economic context of the country. For this reason, all the appeals of the [right wing Venezuelan] opposition for a mass desertion [of soldiers] or for a coup against the Bolivarian government have failed.
Cutting-edge air defense system
However, the element that most irritated the Pentagon generals was the decision of President Nicolás Maduro to install the S-300VM Air Defense System in all border regions. In this way, any attempt at penetration of Venezuelan airspace by missiles, spy planes or fighter bombers is immediately detected by radar that has an effective reading capacity up to 10,000 meters in height and 300 linear kilometers.
Those who seek to violate Venezuelan airspace without authorization are shot down by the anti-aircraft defense system, which consists of five lines of fire: (1) 20mm and 40mm anti-aircraft guns; (2) MANPADS Igla5 portable missiles with a range of 5,000 meters (m); (3) Missiles S-125 PECHORA 2M with range 20,000 m; (4) Missiles BUK-2ME with range 25,000 m; (5) Missiles S-300VM with range 30,000 m.
This defense system is the context always present in the difficult meetings of Generals James Mattis and John Kelly with [politicians] Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo, as they discuss carrying out a “surgical bombardment” to destroy strategic objectives in Venezuela.
Trump and Pompeo, having no knowledge of military technology, have never understood that given the creation by the Venezuelan CODAI of an efficient area of aerial exclusion (NOTAM A0 160/19), it would be extremely risky to carry out aerial bombing missions. All Venezuelan air space is protected by S-300VM missiles, including maritime air space extending to the islands of Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire.
Venezuelan radars perfectly control air activity more than 100 kilometres from their borders. In particular, they defend the airspace of the Colombian region of Cucuta and the Brazilian region of Pacaraima, which, according to the subversive plan “Operation Constitution,” were to have been the starting point of the projected U.S. invasion masked [by the pretext of sending humanitarian aid].
Thus, President Maduro, following the orientation of Hugo Chávez, has completed the protection of all Venezuelan air space with a genuine umbrella armed with anti-aircraft missiles, guided by powerful Russian radars, able to cancel up to 300 kilometers any type of electronic interference.
At this point, given the impossibility of promoting a “popular” insurrection, with a coup d’état impracticable and the impeachment of President Nicolás Maduro unworkable, the men of the CIA are trying to exhaust and delegitimize the Bolivarian government with cybernetic sabotage (9) — the last chapter of the hybrid war invented by Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump.
- On Feb. 1, special units of the Army and SEBIN captured on the José Antònio Paez motorway the first two self–nominated “commanders” of the nascent “ELV” (“Venezuelan Liberation Army”) the retired colonels Oswaldo Garcia Palomo and José Acevedo Montonès. The other two “commanders,” Antonio José Labichele Barrios and Alberto José Salazar Cabana, were captured later.
- On Feb. 4, U.S. President Donald Trump, in an interview with CNN, reiterated “the willingness of the White House to depose the ‘Venezuelan dictator’ even with a military solution.”
- The “Lima Group” was formed within the OAS (Organization of American States) to diplomatically isolate the Bolivarian government and support the subversion of the [rightwing] opposition.
- Gen. Jacinto Péerez Arcay exercises the position of general chief of staff of the Command of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB).
- The neocons (new conservatives) form a group within the U.S. Republican party headed by Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, who have always supported Donald Trump.
- José Luis Da Costa Fiori is a Brazilian academic specializing in international political macroeconomics, who was an analyst at the BID (International Development Bank) and then taught for two years (2005-06) at the University of Cambridge.
- Operation Maidan is the code name of the subversive project that the CIA and the U.S. State Department used to overthrow the government of Ukraine.
- The Russian Central Bank was the main global buyer of gold in 2018. Specifically, it sold all U.S. government bonds it had on its balance sheet at the same time buying 274.3 tons of gold. In this way, the Russian Federation became the fifth largest gold holder in the world after the U.S., Germany, France and Italy.
- On March 7, Venezuela was the target of a series of cybernetic attacks on the control system of the El Guri hydroelectric power plant. After the blackout, a new attack was orchestrated against the country, this time in the structures of the oil fringe of the Orinoco, the largest reserve of crude oil on the planet. The Bolivarian government said that this sabotage was carried out with technology that only the U.S. government owns to generate power outages across the country.