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Following a fiery speech by National Assembly president Julio Borges on Thursday in which he called for the National Bolivarian Armed Forces to protect the constitution against the Maduro regime’s abuses, Minister of Defense General Vladimir Padrino Lopez issued a reply stressing the undying commitment of the Venezuelan military to Maduro and the chavismo.

In the same release, Padrino Lopez stresses the military’s commitment not only to the Bolivarian project, but also to ensuring that its legacy survives “at all costs”.

Below, my translation of the press release from the Ministry of Defense:

The National Bolivarian Armed Forces ratify to the Venezuelan people its indomitable call to serve their highest interests, and its unbreakable promise to respect and enforce the Supreme Law of the Republic as we have always done, specially over the past 17 years during which we have faced serious attacks such as coup detats, an oil strike, terrorist guarimbas [street barricades], paramilitary crime and political violence; all events that the enemies of the homeland have failed at spectacularly thanks to the overwhelming roll played by the Bolivarian government and the military to protect peace and democratic stability.

This is why it is sadly contradictory for the National Assembly to issue a blind and partisan call to rescue the Constitution, which is an attempt to generate uncertainty and an attack on the legitimacy of citizen Nicolas Maduro Moros as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Commander-in-Chief of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces. This is why we stress to the men and women of uniform that the Head of State is not a politically partisan [figure], since the Constitution states that he exercises supreme hierarchical authority, which is why our obedience is not a sign of complacency but rather a duty that has been legally established; this is why we reiterate our absolute loyalty and unconditional support for the efforts that [Maduro] undertakes each and every day to overcome the difficulties we face today.

It is also important to point out the systematic disrespect that a defiant sector of the National Assembly has been carrying out against legitimate authorities like the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia [Supreme Court] by attacking Article 355 of the Constitution that defines it [the Supreme Court] as the apex interpreter of the Constitution; to which all bodies of government are obligated to abide by strictly. This being the case, any act that occurs outside of this framework does so outside of the Constitution, lacks legality and standing, and does not at all contribute to the harmony and co-existence that are necessary for the progress and development of the country.

We count on a rich history of depending Venezuelan democracy, always adhering to the ideals of our Liberator Simon Bolivar; today, the National Bolivarian Armed Forces are proudly Bolivarian as never before. We are the spinal column of popular sovereignty, and are made up of the fiercest defenders of the social and legal achievements [of the Revolution] for its citizens, which has earned us their admiration. As a result, the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and the people today demand respect and reject these foolish statements. Enough with the calls that attempt to involve us in situations that are contrary to its constitutional and professional essence!

At the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ezequial Zamora, General of the Sovereign People, the precursor of social egalitarianism and the civil-military union, the soldier of the homeland, dignified heirs of its legacy, stress or undying compromise to defend at all costs the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution to the benefit of our beloved nations, to ensure that it is forever free, sovereign and independent.

CHAVEZ VIVE… LA PATRIA SIGUE [A slogan that means “Chavez lives and the homeland lives on”]

INDEPENDENCE AND A SOCIALIST HOMELAND… WE WILL SURVIVE AND WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS

VLADIMIR PADRINO LOPEZ

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

National Assembly deputy Henry Ramos Allup responded to the letter today by saying:

If Minister Padrino says that he will defend “the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution”, then he’ll have absolutely nothing to do. There’s nothing to defend.

Constitution Explicitly Forbids Partisan Military

It is important to point out that the Constitution of Venezuela explicitly forbids the military from acting as a partisan entity by favoring one political dogma or party over another. Two different constitutional articles unequivocally outlaw the military or any of its members from acting in a politically-partisan manner. They are (emphasis mine):

Article 328: The National Armed Forces constitute an essentially professional institution, with no political orientation, organized by the State to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the Nation and ensure the integrity of its geographical space, through military defense, cooperation for the purpose of maintaining internal order and active participation in national development, in accordance with this Constitution and the law. In performing their functions, they are at the exclusive service of the Nation, and in no case at the service of any person or political partisanship.

And:

Article 330: Members of the National Armed Forces on active duty have the right to vote in accordance with law, but are not permitted to run for any office filled by popular vote, nor to participate in acts of political advertising, militancy or proselytizing.

The military became the decidedly pro-PSUV institution that it is today due to a years-long process through which the neutrality of the military was stripped away. In Venezuela, this process is the result of the union-civico militar [civil-military union], which is one of the pillars of the Bolivarian Revolution. Loosely defined, the union-civico militar is a philosophy of social organization in which the military and civil spheres overlap, essentially erasing the boundaries between the two.

NA to Forward List of “Corrupt” Venezuelans with US Assets to Congress

Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) politicians are in the process of handing over information to United States Congress officials on “over 100 Venezuelans” who have assets in the United States purchased with the proceeds of corruption, El Nacional reports.

The initiative is being spearheaded by National Assembly deputy Julio Montoya, who told El Nacional that he has been working over the past year with a multidisciplinary team of experts in law and organized crime, as well as with Republican senator Marco Rubio.

Montoya says that he hopes that the initiative will result in the repatriation of money that was removed illegally from Venezuela and hid in assets in the United States.

While Montoya did not reveal the names of anyone on the list, he did say the following:

This group includes people from all sectors. These aren’t just well-known people like judges and army officers, but also strawpersons. The objective is to try to recover these assets that are the product of illicit activities, drug trafficking, human rights violations and money laundering.

Montoya said that at one point, the initiative was temporarily halted in order to “wait for the result of the elections in the United States”. The Trump presidency is likely to result in a turn towards a harsher stance towards the Maduro regime from Washington.

Border With Brazil Re-Opens

The border with Brazil fully re-opened yesterday after it was ordered closed by Maduro in mid-December as part of a disastrous attempt to remove the Bs. 100 bill from circulation  in Venezuela.


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