Leadership: The Perils of Professionalism


June 4,2008: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez thinks he has a military mutiny on his hands, and has acted accordingly. Many of the senior officers of the armed forces (colonels and generals) have been told to stay home until the government can figure out who's trustworthy enough to return to command. The source of this discontent has been building, especially as Chavez has tried to "reform" the armed forces with the adoption of "Bolivarian" doctrine tactics. These "radical and revolutionary" concepts are vague, and seem more concerned with ensuring the troops are loyal to Chavez. Many officers are trying to maintain professional standards, rather than jump through hoops to prove their loyalty. Naturally, active military officers are reluctant to speak out. But retired ones began so two years ago, and that made Chavez nervous.

Another source of discontent was the revelation, three months ago, that Chavez was a lot more involved with leftist Colombian rebel movement FARC, than anyone, in Colombia or Venezuela, had realized. These revelations came when Colombian troops seized a FARC camp just across the border in Ecuador, and obtained the laptops of a senior FARC commander (who had been killed in the operation.) The Venezuelan has been ordered to work with FARC over the last few years, and this has not been popular with the officers, or many of the troops, who see FARC as a bunch of drug bandits. The cocaine trade has become more noticeable in Venezuela as Chavez grants FARC more freedom to do what they want.


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