Hugo Chavez's brother sounds ominous note about military force

As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's health remains uncertain, his brother suggests that Chavez's party could plot a military coup to retain its hold on the country.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (R) is visited by Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro at a hospital in Havana in this June 17 handout file photo. Chavez, an avid tweeter whose speeches routinely go on for hours, has barely communicated in public since a June 10 operation in Cuba that has become increasingly shrouded in mystery and speculation as the days have gone by.

While Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez remains at a hospital in Cuba, his brother Adan, who is governor of the state of Barinas, said the following to Venezuela's military (El Universal, DE):

"The revolution was born in the Bicentennial era, and it made it through elections and we want it to continue that way, following a peaceful path that allows us to build Bolivarian socialism, but aware of the dangers that beset us and that the enemy does not rest, we can not forget as authentic revolutionaries, other methods of struggle.... It would be inexcusable to limit ourselves to only the electoral and not see other forms of struggle, including the armed struggle."

Adan Chavez's comment adds to the threat made by General Rangel Silva late last year, when he said the military may not accept an opposition electoral victory.

Adan's comments must also be taken in context of a potential power struggle within the Chavista ranks. With the possibility that President Chavez will be weaker when he returns to power in a few weeks (not to mention quiet questions about succession), there is a struggle for control and influence within the Chavez ranks to fill that power vaccuum. While only Vice President Elías Jaua would be the legitimate constitutional successor for the president, others including Adan think they are better suited for power. Adan wants to make sure the military will be on his side if and when a struggle within the Chavista ranks breaks out.

For the opposition, the politicization of the military and the threats that armed struggle could occur if Chavistas lose at the ballot box is a major concern, but one they can't do much about at the moment. They have to win first, which is hard enough. If and when that happens, it will be up to Venezuela's citizens and the international community to make sure that the Chavista military coup threats do not come to pass.

--- James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant based in Managua, Nicaragua, who runs Bloggings by Boz.

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