USA, Russia and “arms race” in Latin America

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Head of the Bolivarian armed forces department general Jesus Gonzales

Nil Nikandrov

The measures taken by the president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez to modernise the armament of the army, aviation and navy were met in pro-American mass media of the Western hemisphere countries by indignant discharge of propaganda bugaboos that all come down to one thing: “Russia unleashed the arms race in Latin America!”

The word “bugaboo” was heard in the epoch of the “cold war”. According to the dictionary it means “something that induces fear, repulsion; something that is used to scare”. Presently, the “bugaboos” that scare by military and technical cooperation (MTC) of Russia and Venezuela, should basically induce fear to policyforming circles in Latin America. It looks, for example, like this: “Bolivarian regime flexes its muscles with the help of Russia”, “The balance of forces in the subregion is disturbed”, “Aggressive potential of Venezuela has noticeably grown up” and, it goes without saying, “Chavez and Putin contribute to the arms race on the continent”. There is no doubt that after the planned on 26 November visit of D. Medvedev to Venezuela, similar accusations will be brought down at the address of the Russian president. Standard accusations do not even possess a hint to the truth, but do those “planners” in the USA that set going the “cold war” of the XXI century need it?

The growth of anti-Russian propaganda on Latin America has become more noticeable after the power in the USA came to ultra-right forces, political operators of financial capital, leading transnational corporations, military-industrial complex and those untouchable privileged elites, that think the utmost historical destination of the USA is imperialist domination over the world - PAX AMERICANA.

G. Bush-junior administration in 2000 got a carte blanche to set up geopolitical prerequisites for a decisive multi-vector Blitzkrieg. Among the primary tasks are provision of the guaranteed control over the main world reserves of carbohydrates and setting up of preconditions for splitting Russia to several “independent states”, after which there should come the turn of “neutralisation” of China.

Due to grandiosity and cost-based factor in establishing the “new world order” on the Eurasian continent the Bush administration had to deal with Latin America at half-strength, on the “leftover principle”. Wars in Iraq and Afganistan used to make huge breaches in American treasury. The countries to the south from Rio Grande lacked material and financial resources. In the traditional “stick and carrot policy” the latter soothing ingredient was getting more and more scarce, therefore the “stick” has become more noticeable: public scolding by State department of certain presidents, especially in Latin America, for “politically incorrect behaviour”, excessively close contacts with “tyrant” Hugo Chavez, etc. And what could those presidents do, if high officials in the USA admit that they keep Latin America on starvation rations of assistance, whereas the dynamic Venezuelan leader does not spare for his friends in the region either petrodollars or supplies of energy resources at reduced rates? In order to keep Latin American countries on a short leash, Washington brings to their knowledge through various channels the “authentic information” that after defeat of Iraq and Afganistan the USA will seriously take up for all “violators of stability” in Latin America. And first of all the “dictator” Chavez will have to be held responsible for all caused inconveniences!

For eight years of Bush rule the United States suffered three major defeats in Latin America.

Firstly, the attempt to use the “Chilean model” for overthrowing president Chavez has failed. After a 48 hour removal from power by conspirators, he, supported by the masses and loyal military units, regained his chair in the presidential palace Miraflores.

Secondly, Washington failed to bring to the logical end their cunning neo-colonial project of the controlled integration – establishing in Western hemisphere the Free Trade Area of the Americas. It was actually blocked at the Summit of the Americas by Venezuela and MERCOSUR member countries (Mar del Plata, Argentina, November 2005).

Thirdly, the US turned out to be helpless in the struggle against the so called populist regimes of Latin America. Despite demonization of Chavez and his “socialism of the XXI century”, the number of “populists” to the south from Rio Grande is increasing: Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, to a certain degree Fernando Lugo in Paraguay and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina. The Cuban authorities do not reveal any signs of weakness although Bush and his team in a stately manner adopted the program of “accelerated transition of Cuba to democracy” (on a socialist island the scenarios of “coloured revolutions” do not work).

The “populists” in Latin America hurry to consolidate achievements through integration of their countries (without US participation) through extension of the circle of followers, through their system of regional security. From the point of view of Washington, consolidation of the “populist” countries front is becoming more and more threatening because the activity of American petroleum companies in those countries is purposefully restricted by local (expressly nationalistic) legislation.

However, there is a country in Latin America to whose assistance the Bush administration does not spare money, armaments, combat units, intelligence efforts. In the neighbouring with Venezuela Colombia, Pentagon has set up a powerful military infrastructure, formally directed to fight international drug cartels, detachments of ultra-right “paramilitares” and left-Marxist guerilla groupings. The struggle acquired a protracted nature, as Pentagon does not obviously hurry to deliver decisive blows.

In Caracas with good reason they think that bred US military bases in Colombia present real threat to the national security of Venezuela. From this stand, the Venezuelans assess the Pentagon measures in strengthening fighting efficiency of Colombian armed forces (AF) that are three times larger tnen those AF of Venezuela. The level of Colombian army, air force and navy and availability of modern conventional weapons in all parameters exceed the combat potential of Venezuela. Parity does not exist any longer. That is why, the much talked-about “arms race” unleashed by Chavez, about which the propaganda is crying, is calmly apprehended both by political leadership and Colombian AF commanders.

From the very first days of Chavez presidency Pentagon under different pretexts started to wind up agreements on MTC, specially in supply of military equipment, spare parts to it and ammunition. With the lapse of time it led, in particular, to weakening of combat efficiency of Venezuelan air force: spare parts for F16 fighters and transport Hercules C-130 had to be acquired at the armaments “black market”, resort to services of unreliable “dealers”. Americans consistently cut off alternative sources of supply of armaments from Western Europe and Asia. The usual pretext for sabotage of transactions was presence of components made in USA. In such a way the supplies of transport aircraft from Spain, military-training ones from Brazil have been frustrated. Since 1 October 2006 the State department confirmed embargo on supply of weapon made by US companies to Venezuela. Americans have also declared sanctions against “Rosoboronexport” and corporation “Sukhoi”. The Russian companies management called these sanctions an “act of unfair competition”. Without any hesitation and complexes Russian gunsmiths continue developing this perspective Venezuelan market where previously the products of the US military-industrial complex were dominating. Simple thing: business does not tolerate vacuum.

Washington carefully tracks Venezuelan transactions on procurement of weapon from Russian producers. The nomenclature permanently expands, but it always corresponds to norms and standards of the present international legislation. SU-30 aircraft, combat and transport helicopters MI, air defence systems, Kalashnikov-130 sub-machine guns - this weapon daily proves its reliability and efficiency in tropical conditions of Venezuela. In the nearest and perspective plans of bilateral MTC are Russian supplies of submarines of “Varshavyanka” class, heavy transport aircraft, armoured equipment, portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapon, etc.

Head of the Bolivarian armed forces department general Jesus Gonzales, who is in charge of logistics, has recently said in wilfully tough manner: “I have no doubts that Americans want to break out to get our oil. We must be ready to it as “if you want peace – be prepared for war”. We want to be strong, but exclusively from the deterrence positions”.

General Gonzales denounced the accusations that president Chavez spent too much means for procurement of weapons and reminded that in 2009 after consequent OPEC certification Venezuela would be included in the first five countries with the biggest reserves of carbohydrates. In its underground stores at present there are 316,000 millions barrels of explored oil, twice as much as it was thought before. “If it were not for Chavez coming to power, - Gonzales thinks, - those conditions according to which they (USA) used to get oil, would be different, the state company PDVSA would have been privatised and become a branch of American Exxon Mobil”. The general also said that the Venezuelans should understand that “in purely military aspect the country will remain under threat and even after Barack Obama came to power. The goals and targets of the USA will always remain the same: struggle for the world supremacy. It is just the reason why Venezuela has to bear such expenditures for procurement of armaments in such allied countries as Russia, China and Belarus”.

Other Latin American countries are ready to follow Venezuelan's example in the sphere of military and technical cooperation with Russia. With anxiety they interpret the US activities in increasing the number of US bases on the continent, revival of the 4th US fleet under the plea of fighting drug trafficking, terrorism and rendering “humanitarian aid”.

Arrogance of the superpower, its negligence of international rights norms, staking on use of force while solving the appearing problems – all this makes Latin American governments not only strengthen and modernise the national armed forces but resort to still bashful but quite conscious steps towards establishing the regional security system without participation of the USA. With confidence we may say that the efforts of Pentagon of many years on “transformation” of the Latin American armies into paramilitary police detachments have failed. Hardly anybody nowadays believes in Latin America to Washington allegations that under the US umbrella the region should not fear anything. The threat exists: it comes out of the American empire itself.

Professional military, Chavez neutralised manoeuvres of Pentagon and its “negative imagemakers” to compromise Russian armaments: “For our climatic conditions and complicated relief this is the most reliable and efficient equipment”. Wide white-toothed smile of Chavez with SU-30 at the background has become an exclusive advertisement to the fighter, and the photo of the president with Kalashnikov in hands – a symbolic warning to potential aggressor. Venezuela will be able to defend its sovereignty, and its revolution, and its oil.

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