National Assembly deputy for the ruling PSUV party Hugo “El Pollo” Carvajal, a lifelong Chavez loyalist and once-head of the army’s counterintelligence agency, defected from the Maduro regime this afternoon in a video statement shared on his personal Twitter account.
In the statement, Carvajal accused Maduro of “murdering” protesters who were “demanding the rights that [Maduro] stole from them”, and called on the armed forces to join him in “the right side of history”.
Carvajal joins the ranks of high-profile regime defectors, alongside former minister of defense Miguel Rodriguez Torres, former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz, and former head of PDVSA Rafael Ramirez. Carvajal is the highest-profile member of the PSUV party to defect this year.
Dressed in a suit and tie with Caracas in the background, Carvajal read from a lengthy statement in which he recognized Juan Guaido as interim president, and put himself at his command as “soldier of liberty and democracy”. He also
Below, Carvajal’s video thread on Twitter along with my translation of his entire speech:
Venezuelan people: we find ourselves in the worst republican and humanitarian crisis of our modern history. That is why I address you two bearing two responsibilities: that which I have as deputy to the National Assembly, which is the last bastion of democracy alive in this country, but also as a solider and member of the Venezuelan army.
Everyone knows me for having carried out my duties during a military career spanning more than thirty years, during which I headed military intelligence and counterintelligence for more than a decade, during two of Chavez’s presidential terms. Besides being my commander in chief, [Chavez] was my great friend and whose soul only God will know how to judge.
Public speaking is not my strength. But when I offered my services as deputy [to the National Assembly] to the people of Monagas, I relied more on my actions than in political rhetoric, and I think that because of this the noble people gave me their trust. However, I consider that my words today could stir some to action, and are the best way to address you.
What I do consider to be my strength is what the military academy taught me: to always carry out my sacred duties and my oath to the nation as a soldier and as a citizen. Among the duties of the solider is following orders without question as long as they are legal. Among the oaths is to do whatever is necessary to defend the Venezuelan people from any oppression, domestic or foreign, always guaranteeing the constitutional order of the nation, the same order that began to wane with the creation of the National Constituent Assembly against which I spoke at the time, and that then went on to [include] the carrying out of tainted [presidential] elections], and culminated on January 10 with Nicolas Maduro’s usurpation of power.
Before continuing, I’d like to share the extracts of a letter that president Hugo Chavez wrote me once, which I believe contains particularly fitting. I quote:
“I want to thank you because you’ve done a good job in a difficult, complicated and hard situation. We all know that the state security forces were turned into tools of repression by puntofijismo [the political period before Chavez came to power]. They could act with total impunity outside of the law to defend the interests of the political and economy elites. Only the mention of the DIM [military intelligence] as well as (unintelligible) meant abuses, torture and terror for many Venezuelans.”
Ironically, the mere mention of the DGCIM, the SEBIN, the FAES, or the National Guard today has once again come to mean abuses, torture and terror for many Venezuelans. All in the name of complying, outside of the law, with the repressive strategies of this government.
“We must take into account that the time was come to revolutionize national security and defense. We are living in new times that calls for the consolidation and strengthening of the civil-military union, along with the creation of a single and unified class of man and woman [and] citizens”.
I ask myself, at what point did the armed forces–which were called to “consolidate and strengthen the civil-military union”–decide to do the opposite, and turn its back on the people? When did they stop forming part of the citizenry, to instead become oppressors of their freedoms and defenders of the political elite? Could this have something to do with following foreign orders?
“This is why our Liberator [Simon Bolivar] said: ‘Providence cannot allow theft, treason and intrigue to triumph over patriotism and the purest rectitude.’ These words from the father of our homeland have the utmost relevance, because this new Venezuelan era calls on us to grab our swords in defense of our social guarantees and the people’s rights. Our efforts depend on us being dignified heirs . Noble and patriotic is the mission that falls upon the Military Intelligence Directorate in these times when each of us must carry out the most sacred, beautiful and demanding of tasks: the builders of our Bolivarian republic.”
To the [army] high command: you have on your shoulders the weight of the army that forged freedom in more than five countries. It cannot be that this same army, which is now under the command of a handful of generals subjugated and aligned with Cuban interests, has become in the biggest collaborator with a dictatorial government designed to plague the people with misery. It is inexplicable that a group of people who call themselves the government–illegitimate since January 10–have decided to ignore a humanitarian crisis that, far from being faked by the media, is felt by all. It is inexplicable how the greed to remain in power has created so many calamities for our people, separating without mercy hundreds of thousands of families through the massive exodus of millions of Venezuelans. It is inexplicable how the judicialization of politics [sic] has been the only response due to the fear of holding free elections, as evidenced by the banning [of candidates], persecution, forced exile, and prison.
This is more than enough. Nicolas [Maduro]: assume your responsibility. Chavez did. On April 11 , Chavez could not abide by the blood shed by 19 innocent Venezuelans [so he] handed himself over to the rebelling generals. Instead, you [Maduro] have murdered hundreds of students on the streets for demanding the rights that you have stolen from them. Add to this the number of people killed by the lack of medicine and crime. Take responsibility for the misery that you have brought to our land. Take responsibility for the humanitarian, economic, political, and social crises with which you’ve plagued all of Venezuelan.
As the man responsibly for watching over the [unintelligible] of the army for more than ten years, I feel the duty to be clear with all of the armed forces, the same for which I put so much effort into protecting from every kind of threat, deviations and meddling. Today, we do not have the technical capability to face any enemy. Whoever says the opposite is lying. The army is no stranger to disastrous Venezuelan reality. It also lacks food and medicine, and the majority of its equipment has been cannibalized and has had parts stolen. This is exactly how the rest of the country feels.
in light of this, I want to ask every man and woman who consider themselves true soldiers, those of you who live this harsh reality daily in your barracks as soldiers and as an ordinary citizen, let your heart guide you at this moment as the homeland needs upstanding soldiers for her defense, not for [the defense of] individual interests.
To the high command, which has brought us shame internationally with ridiculous videos, I warn you: you still have time to steer away from your path. You know the sorry state of our institution [the army] well.
Interim President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Juan Guaido Marquez: here stands another solider of liberty and democracy to be put to use in the goal of restoring constitutional order to allow us to call free elections to hear the true will of our sovereign people. I am sure that we will soon have a democratic Venezuela with free and independent institutions.
My brothers in arms, how this will all end rests in your hands. Do not doubt that this is the correct side of history.
Thank you, and may God bless Venezuela.
Carvajal–nicknamed “El Pollo”–made national headlines in July 2017 when he spoke out against Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, saying that it would not fix Venezuela’s problems.
Prior to that, Carvajal made international headlines in 2014 when he was detained in Aruba on a United States arrest warrant over his alleged connection to drug trafficking operations inside the Venezuelan state. Carvajal was released and flown to Venezuela after Maduro put pressure on the island to do so.
Carvajal was the head of the Dirección General de Contrainteligencia Militar (General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence) from 2004 to 2011. and then from 2013 to 2014. Today, the DGCIM serves as Venezuela’s counterintelligence agency, and operates outside of military jurisdiction despite its name.
Guaido Sets Off for Colombia as Aid Convoy Meets Resistance
Interim president Juan Guaido set off this morning for the border with Colombia near Cucuta, where he is expected to take part in this weekend’s attempted delivery of humanitarian aid. Guaido’s caravan was joined by others that included trucks and other volunteers who are also headed to Cucuta to help bring the aid in this weekend.
The aid convoy met resistance from the National Guard at the La Cabrera tunnel, which connects Carabobo and Aragua states. There, the National Guard set up a roadblock to stop the convoy from continuing on its journey west:
There were soldiers stationed on the other side of the tunnel as well. In the video below, a group of soldiers attempt to take control of one of the trucks in the convoy. A group of volunteers yell at and push the soldiers away from the truck:
The video below shows another instant when the soldiers attempted to attack the same truck, allegedly with knives to deflate its tires:
After some time, the convoy was able to make it past the soldiers:
Aside from being the scheduled point of entry for the humanitarian aid this weekend, the Cucuta is also hosting the Venezuela Aid Live concert, sponsored by Richard Branson.
Below, an aerial shot of the concert stage, just meters away from the Venezuelan border:
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