Venezuela Flexes Military Muscle in Response to Obama EO

Editor’s Note – As we approach the deadline in the P5+1 talks with Iran, we see their global connections and influence grow. Regardless of the now infamous letter to the Iranians from the Republican Senators, Iran has no intention slowing any of its intentions and goals down.

For years they have been in concert with Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, and Cuba, to name just two of many, and as Venezuela turns even further into the Iranian and Cuban sphere of influence, they become increasingly more dangerous to the United States.

Just recently tensions have boile and a former General in the Chavez regime is trumpeting the danger:

Antonio Rivero, a retired army general who was close to President Hugo Chavez and has denounced the Cuban military presence in strategic areas of the Armed Forces. (Miguel Gutierrez/AFP/Getty Images) (2010 AFP)
Antonio Rivero, a retired army general who was close to President Hugo Chavez and has denounced the Cuban military presence in strategic areas of the Armed Forces. (Miguel Gutierrez/AFP/Getty Images) (2010 AFP)

The Venezuelan government’s close ties to Cuba and Iran pose a real threat to its sovereignty, and to the security of the hemisphere, retired Brig. Gen. Antonio Rivero, a former insider in the government of Hugo Chávez, told Fox News Latino during a visit to Washington, D.C., this week.

Rivero held high-profile positions under Chávez – from 2003 to 2008, he was the director of the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief agency – until he refused to chant “Socialism, Fatherland or Death,” a pledge emblematic of the Cuban Revolution that was imposed unexpectedly as part of the official military salute. (Exclusive from Fox News Latino, read more here.)

Obama had first imposed sanctions last December when Congress approved the measure on Venezuela accusing Maduro officials of violating protesters rights and was quickly rebuffed by Maduro:

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused Obama of hypocrisy for enabling the sanctions a day after announcing an effort to normalize relations with Communist-run Cuba, which has been under U.S. trade sanctions for decades.

Then, last Monday, he signed an Executive Order increasing those sanctions by identifying seven individuals in Madura’s government and declaring Venezuela to be a national security threat to the United States:

“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told reporters that Caracas would respond to the U.S. move soon. Mr. Maduro said last week that he wouldn’t “accept” U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. is Venezuela’s top trading partner, and last year Venezuela was the fourth-largest supplier of crude to the U.S. at an average of 733,000 barrels per day — despite a decade long effort by Caracas to reduce its dependence on the U.S. by exporting more oil to China and India. (Read more here at the Washington Times.)

Antonio Rivero also told Fox News Latino that he knew the people named in Obama’s order and that he believes they were not initially “Chavistas”:

He explained that none of the military officers sanctioned by the U.S. had ideological ties to the chavista movement before assuming public offices in the government.

“Many of these officers were initially good professionals, who became victims of the system,” Rivero said, “but were not really part of the hard line of military command. They simply followed orders, betrayed their principals, kissed up to their superiors, and got promoted.”

This raises many puzzling questions, not the least of which is one of Maduro’s accusations that on one hand Obama cozies up to Cuba at a time it chastises one of our biggest trading partners in this hemisphere, especially in oil.

We at SUA certainly are not admirers of Maduro and his socialist ways, nor his close relationship and almost puppet-like obedience to Cuba and Iran, but it appears that Obama’s foreign policies seem to puzzle everyone. However, we do agree that Venezuela is a growing menace.

In response to Obama’s Executive Order, Venezuelan President Madura is flexing his military muscle supplied by the likes of Iran, Russia, and China. The bloc against the USA just grew tighter.

The region is also responding negatively to Obama:

La Paz is striking back at Washington in defense of Caracas, after Bolivian President Evo Morales earlier this week signaled his support for Maduro. In a Thursday document the Foreign Ministry expressed its“regret” at Obama’s stance, saying “Bolivia rejects these interventionist actions of the US government to violate the sovereignty and self-determination of the Venezuelan people. These undemocratic actions of President Barack Obama threaten the peace and security of all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Read more here.)

You be the judge:

Venezuela holds massive military maneuvers amid new US sanctions

From Yahoo News/AFP

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela begins a week and a half of military exercises on Saturday, amid rising tensions with the United States over sanctions imposed on officials accused of an opposition crackdown.

About 80,000 troops were due to take part in the massive display of weaponry, as Caracas shows off its Chinese amphibian weapons, Russian-built missiles and other military hardware.

A Russian-made S-125 Neva/Pechora (SA-3 GOA) surface-to-air missile vehicle carrier remains idle in a military base in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Juan Barreto)
A Russian-made S-125 Neva/Pechora (SA-3 GOA) surface-to-air missile vehicle carrier remains idle in a military base in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Juan Barreto)

The exercises will last 10 days and will enlist the participation of 20,000 civilians, in addition to the troops, officials said.

The manuevers come at a time of heightened tensions with the United States, which has clashed repeatedly with the leftist-led South American country over the years.

Relations hit a new low on Monday, when US President Barack Obama slapped new sanctions on the regime, calling the oil-rich Venezuela “an extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States.

After Obama made the move, which targeted senior Venezuelan officials for cracking down on the opposition, Caracas angrily recalled its envoy to Washington and ramped up its military preparedness.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and Bolivia's President Evo Morales (Reuters)
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and Bolivia’s President Evo Morales (Reuters)

The country’s defense minister, General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, said Saturday that the maneuvers, many of which were to be held in the south of Caracas, were meant to prepare soldiers for “their mission, their goal, and with the will to be victorious.”

Other maneuvers will focus on Venezuela’s oil-producing areas, including the Caribbean coast and an oil field some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the west of Caracas.

Military officials said they will also test the nation’s air defenses and will ensure that its anti-aircraft systems are ready to be deployed if needed.

President Nicolas Maduro has accused Washington of backing an alleged opposition plot to overthrow him. He is seeking extraordinary powers from the legislature that would allow him to rule by decree.

Maduro’s popularity has sunk in the past year amid an economic crisis, galloping inflation and huge lines outside supermarkets plagued by drastic food shortages.

Elected to succeed his late mentor Hugo Chavez in April 2013, Maduro had obtained one-year-long powers to impose economic laws by decree later that same year.

Communist Cuba rallied behind Maduro this week, pledging “unconditional support” to Caracas. Another ally, Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa, denounced the US sanctions as “grotesque” and a “sick joke.”