Response to the Ron Paul crowd on Venezuela, Part 2

By Zach Foster
Continued from Part 1: Follow the Constitution!

Part 2: The Indian War and the War on Libertarians

While critics from the Ron Paul Institute, the Libertarian Institute, and other organizations have tunnel vision for John Bolton’s independent agenda, they completely ignore Venezuelan libertarians — students of Ron Paul who have to live under the dictatorship his institute is defending.

Government resources for political party militias

Maduro isn’t only kept in power by the army, which has largely proven to be unreliable for him given the high number of desertions. He’s padded the ranks of the Bolivarian National Militia with members of the United Socialist Party, to guarantee that the armed forces stay loyal to him. But that’s not all.

There are the colectivos — paramilitary gangs armed and paid off by the regime to shoot at and disperse protesters. Sometimes the colectivos are satisfied to disperse the protesters; other times they hunt people down like animals.

Colectivos shoot at unarmed protesters while the police ignore the violence. Photo by La Opinión.

For example, Jesus Noria of the Libertarian Movement of Venezuela was detained by the colectivos, who said “Guaido can’t protect you” as they dragged him to get interrogated by GNB soldiers. He was released with a black eye and several bruises on his body. Daniel Barrios, libertarian from Caracas, was shot in the ribs in 2014 for protesting. Another organizer in the Libertarian Movement, name withheld on request, was shot in the leg by police. Lorent Saleh, a libertarian before the Libertarian Movement existed, was imprisoned and tortured for four years on false charges of terrorism.

Artwork in support of Lorent Saleh

Melanie Manjoud, libertarian nursing student who runs a foundation that cares for sick kids, was detained once by the army and a second time by the paramilitaries for bringing medicine to a children’s hospital. Franklin Camargo of the libertarian-leaning party Vente Venezuela had to flee the country after he was expelled for disagreeing with his teacher, and falsely accused of terrorism by the dean. His college actually falsely reported him to SEBIN (Maduro’s CIA/NSA hybrid) for terrorism.

Maria Oropeza has been arrested twice just for organizing protests, and threatened with violence if she continued–which she has. Then there’s Adriana Flores Marquez, a civil rights lawyer who also had to flee under false charges of terrorism. And of course, Yomar Moreno, the national coordinator of the Libertarian Movement, has repeatedly dodged smoke grenades and marble bullets while out distributing Libertarian literature at the protests.

There is a war on libertarians in Venezuela. The Libertarians didn’t start it — it was forced upon them. And they have the right to defend themselves from the soldiers, police, and paramilitary thugs shooting at them.  It gets worse — the colectivos are only one of the paramilitary groups.

The United Socialist Party created its own militia, the Bolivar-Chavez Battle Units (UBCh), and its own spy network, the RAAS. Both of these paramilitary organizations are funded and supported not by PSUV member dues, but by the Venezuelan government. They’re even armed and trained by the Bolivarian National Militia even though they’re not Ministry of Defense personnel–they’re very specifically PSUV personnel and they wear their red party colors. The United Socialist Party is the only political party in Venezuela that has its own militia (140,000 strong), and also the only political party whose militia is directly supported by the government.

The Bolivarian National Militia has uniforms and unit insignia whereas the UBCh wear their party colors. Image from Hector Rodriguez, PSUV governor of Miranda.

I don’t even have time to get into the Colombian Marxist guerrillas operating in 12 of Venezuela’s 23 states. Suffice it to say that the Colombian guerrillas which were openly aided and supported by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro are now carrying on their private war inside of Venezuelan territory.

The country is a mess and it’s Nicolas Maduro’s fault.

The convict army and the 2019 Indian War

The Ron Paul Institute focused a lot on the one aid truck that protestors accidentally set on fire. The circumstances the RPI conveniently glossed over is that the civilians were using molotov cocktails to defend the convoy of aid trucks from the motorized paramilitaries who were shooting at them. And while RPI was on top of how the February aid convoys were allegedly a Trojan horse to start a war, they missed the latest Venezuelan Indian War that Maduro’s regime waged against the indigenous population in the state of Bolivar.

They know nothing about the El Dorado and Vista Hermosa prisons being emptied and the prisoners being given a paramilitary mission and briefing.

They know nothing about the Pemón tribe recognizing Guaido as President, or the frantic phone call from a Pemón Tribal Guards lieutenant warning her nation that 3,000 armed and uniformed convicts were on their way with shoot-to-kill orders.

They never saw the convoys of buses filled with these uniformed convicts headed to Santa Elena de Uairén.

They know nothing of the massacre that happened to the unarmed Pemón people, or the dozens killed in the first 24 hours, as the convict army ran loose in Kuramapakay and Uairén.

They ignored the Venezuelan soldiers escaping across the Brazilian border warning the world that Maduro emptied El Dorado prison and armed the convicts.

They never saw the press conference where Assemblyman (and Pemón Chief) Romel Guzamana struggling to keep his composure while explaining how 25 of his tribesmen and constituents were massacred on the first day of the assault, with dozens more. That was just the first day.

Assemblyman Chief Romel Guzamana talks about his people being massacred by Maduro and Varela’s convict army

The Pemón nation did its best to fight for freedom. Because of Hugo Chavez’s 2012 gun control law and disarmament campaign — all civilians were disarmed except for the pro-regime paramilitaries — the Pemóns had bows and arrows to defend themselves against an army of colectivos and prison convicts with military-grade weapons. By the hand of Nicolas Maduro and prison minister Iris Varela, these tribesmen and women experienced the same fate as their ancestors before the Spanish conquistadors.

This is the peace that the Maduro regime was ‘fighting for.’ The Ron Paul Institute, the Libertarian Institute, and other critics of Venezuelan freedom are completely in the dark about this –if they had bothered to reach out to anyone in Mises Institute Venezuela or Bastiat Society Venezuela, they would know. But they didn’t.

Crimes against humanity like the wave of colectivo violence, the Colombian guerrillas, and the convict army are why so many Venezuelans are backing Guaido.

Armed Chinese troops in Texas

While the critics are hyper-focused on John Bolton and possible nefarious plans by the American Right, they’re not focused at all on the other foreign governments currently carving up Venezuela like a Turkey.

Let’s hearken back to the beautiful super PAC ad for Ron Paul from 2012: “Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base. Say, Chinese… or Russian. Imagine that thousands of armed foreign troops were patrolling America’s streets in military vehicles…” Well, that’s exactly the situation faced by Venezuelans from Caracas all the way to Zulia, the ‘Texas of Venezuela’.

There are literally Russian troops manning antiaircraft stations and Chinese troops acting as advisers in major military bases and even PDVSA facilities. Just like Iraq in 2003, there are foreign troops occupying Venezuela and are present in that country’s oil facilities.

PLA army and navy officers with FANB officers. Photo from EP Mundo.
PDVSA facilities are controlled by the Venezuelan army. Chinese advisers are at the front-right. Photo from NotiTotal.

And while Donald Trump bragged that Russia has withdrawn most of its military personnel from the country, the Mises-Mambí Institute’s contacts on the ground are refuting that. The Russians are still in Venezuela in droves.

But the Russian and Chinese presence is minuscule compared to the 25,000 Cuban troops in the country. There are at least 5,000 Cuban regulars there keeping Maduro in power, but it’s also known that at least 20,000 of the 100,000 Cubans deployed on a ‘civilian mission’ have received militia training in Venezuela.

While the Cuban, Russia, and Chinese troops have all been spotted in their own uniforms, they’re known to primarily wear the uniform of the Venezuelan army and police (the Bolivarian National Guard/GNB and the Bolivarian National Police/PNB. They’ve learned from all the bad press that the US military got from Iraq and Afghanistan, and I’m sure they also learned from Russia’s PR failures in Afghanistan. Hence, instead of giving the world press lots of photos of foreign troops shooting Venezuelan protesters, there are only Spanish language sources talking about these Venezuelan soldiers and police with strange Cuban accents. (Chinese troops wearing Venezuelan uniforms; Venezuelan cop detained by citizens is Cuban; Venezuelan soldier with an obviously Cuban accent)

So the next question to respond to is “Why doesn’t the Venezuelan army change sides if they support Guaidó?” Well, remember the second line of troops that the Red Army had in World War II to stop the first line from retreating or deserting? (From the “No One Steps Back” Order.) The same situation applies here, except that second line is made of Cuban troops in GNB/PNB uniforms, or of colectivos whenever the paramilitary motorcycle gangs are jointly deployed with the GNB. Venezuelan soldiers want to switch sides, but they’re all afraid of being imprisoned or shot by the second line of communist military doctrine.

This is what the Venezuelan opposition–what our Venezuelan libertarian brothers–are fighting against. They’re fighting for their own survival, not as John Bolton’s proxies like so many Americans love to project. It’s not about Trump and Bolton, and it’s not about the US military industrial complex.

Venezuelan libertarians and AnCaps present at the 2017 protests

Free Venezuela, all foreign troops out

So there you have it. Libertarians supporting the Venezuelan uprising don’t want a US military adventure in Venezuela, but we also don’t want any of the other three foreign governments already there to be involved either. We do want Venezuela to be free by her own efforts, and the efforts of her neighbors who are taking in thousands of Venezuelan refugees every week. Under the 1999 constitution, Guaidó is legitimately the interim president. And no matter what any dictator’s law says, the Venezuelan people have a right to overthrow the Maduro criminal dictatorship.

We the American libertarians who support Venezuela’s libertarians in their fight for freedom shouldn’t have to answer for Bolton’s policy goals, any more than the major assumers in the Ron Paul Institute should have to answer for Raul Castro’s foreign policy goals. However, given the Ron Paul Institute’s key figures having a long relationship with Kremlin-sponsored organizations, perhaps they should be answering for Putin’s foreign policy goals in Georgia, Ukraine, and occupied Venezuela.

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See also: The Venezuela Crisis Open Source Intel Report – published by the Mises-Mambí Institute and available free of charge.

The featured image was adapted from a public domain painting of Simon Bolivar and a 2011 photo of Ron Paul by Gage Skidmore.

The opinions expressed in this two-part essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute’s Board of Directors or volunteers.

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