Maduro Promotes Military Officers as Candidates for the National Assembly

Maduro Promotes Military Officers as Candidates for the National Assembly

By Diálogo
November 20, 2020

The illegitimate Nicolás Maduro regime nominated 16 military officers, some of them proven corrupt and sanctioned, in an active reserve capacity for Venezuela’s December 6 fraudulent parliamentary elections. Some of them could even still be on active duty, as the pronouncements of their retirements have not been published.

Maduro disclosed these names as part of the 120 nominations for the renewal of National Assembly representatives, the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal reported. Notable among the new faces are General Jesús Suárez Chourio, former commander of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB, in Spanish), and Major General Alexis Rodríguez Cabello (Diosdado Cabello’s cousin), former head of the Capital Integral Strategic Defense Region and former Bolivarian Army commander.

The illegitimate regime also nominated Bolivarian National Guard (GNB, in Spanish) major generals Manuel Quevedo and Antonio Benavides Torres, who served respectively as chair of Petróleos de Venezuela and general commander of the GNB.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned generals Suárez Chourio, Quevedo, and Benavides Torres due to their support for the Maduro regime, their participation in the corrupt diversion of resources needed to mitigate the humanitarian emergency in Venezuela, and violations of citizens’ fundamental human rights. The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Gen. Suárez in July 2017, Maj. Gen. Quevedo in February 2019, and Maj. Gen. Benavides Torres in March 2015.

The European Union also sanctioned Maj. Gen. Benavides Torres, in a decision approved by its parliament in January 2018.

According to Luis Alberto Buttó, a Venezuelan historian who specializes in civil-military relations and director of the Latin American Center for Security Studies at Simón Bolívar University, the decision to promote these officers to the National Assembly is the result of a political model that was conceived two decades ago.

“The regime’s leadership has always referred to a political-military leadership of the revolution, which means that the military are front-line political actors. From executors of public policies, they have become the government, and now [the regime] wants to control the legislative power with them,” Buttó said.

He said that this group of candidates for the Venezuelan Parliament, who emerged from FANB ranks, represents the recognition of a share of power for the military within the ruling party.

“There is a symbiosis between the high command and the revolutionary leadership. That is indisputable. That identity precedes this election, because this is a project with military origins,” he said.

International repudiation

The United States and the European Union announced that they will not recognize the results of this farce election, considering that the minimum conditions to guarantee equality and transparency in the results are not met, demanding free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections.

The opposition, led by Interim President Juan Guaidó, announced that it would not take part. Representatives of other political opposition entities, such as Henrique Capriles, also opted to withdraw from the election, once the European Union decided not to send an electoral observation mission, as announced by Josep Borrell, high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on September 30.

According to Bolivarian Army Brigadier General (ret.) Juan Antonio Herrera, head of the Military Institutional Front, an organization of 266 retired officers aimed at preventing the FANB from deviating from the constitutional mandate, these officers’ nominations “further politicize the Armed Forces in all its elements,” in open violation of the constitution’s Article 328 provisions, which states that the military institution will only be at the service of the nation, not of any political preference.

Brig. Gen. Herrera said that the regime aims to consolidate the FANB as the “armed wing” of the ruling party.

“This military faction will legislate in favor of politicizing the Armed Forces, putting it at the service of a political project,” he said.

The military institution itself is conducting an operation to support and monitor the electoral process, and in the last week of October carried out the first voting simulations in every state of the country.

Brig. Gen. Herrera noted that this process, in which the military are arbitrators and also an interested party, raises conflicts and contradictions within the FANB, as there is “still a sector that reads the constitution.”

According to Buttó, the debate should focus on the elections’ lack of legitimacy, as well as on the fact that the results will not have the international community’s official recognition.