Saturday, September 12, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Hugo Chávez came home with some souvenirs from his recent foreign tour (via the BBC):  Venezuela to get Russian missiles

Returning from a 10-day tour of Africa, Asia and Europe, including Russia, Mr Chavez is also planning to buy Russian T-72 and T-90.

"Soon some little rockets are going to be arriving… and they don’t fail," he announced at the presidential palace.

But he denied they would be used for offensive purposes.

"We are not going to attack anybody, these are just defence tools, because we are going to defend our country from any threat, wherever it may come from," the president said.

The T-72s and T-90s are tanks.  According to El Tiempo, the weapons purchases includes the missiles, the tanks and some other military vehicles (including, according to the story, the BMP3 and the MPR).

Apart from the obvious fact that all countries either manufacture or purchase weapons to stock their militaries, there are likely two main purposes for this purchase (as as well for rhetorical flourishes like “they don’t fail”).  Both, I think, are primarily for internal political consumptions.

The first is to demonstrate his resolve against the pending Yanqui invasion.  After all, he has already noted that the purpose of the US-Colombian basing rights deals is so that the US can start a war in the reason.  Once one has made such claims, best to show the public that one is getting prepared.

The second is to up the ante in the ongoing rhetorical war with Colombia.  After all, why makes a show of the 300km (185 mile) range of your new missiles?  Who else would be in that range of Venezuela?  I somehow doubt he is planning on a fight with Guyana nor is he trying to provoke Lula in Brazil.  No, this is swipe at Colombia without a doubt.   Again, he has made the accusation on more than one occasion that the Colombians were going to invade, so again, best to be prepared, yes?

Note:  my somewhat skeptical tone here is partially fueled by the fact that I don’t believe, not even a little bit, that either the US or Colombia has even a passing interest in invading Venezuela.  Moreover, the incidence of inter-state war in Latin America is so small, historically speaking, that one is safe one wagering that one is unlikely to start now.   Beyond that:  I can see absolutely nothing to be gained by armed conflict between Colombian and Venezuela on either side.  As such, one has to evaluate the words and actions of Chávez in this context.  And, after all, the man does like to talk (and indeed, words are one of his more potent domestic political tools).

At a minimum, I would state that anyone who will claim (and I am sure that some will) that this purchase represents some broader nefarious plans on the part of Venezuela simply does not understand the situation.

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4 Responses to “Chávez Buys some Missiles, other Toys on Trip”

  • el
  • pt
    1. Fausta Says:

      Yes, but let’s not ignore the further commercial possibilities of Hugo selling the armaments on…

    2. Steven L. Taylor Says:

      Well, perhaps.

      Of course, after all this rather public display of his purchase, it would be pretty obvious if he sold the materials to someone else. If we are thinking in terms of the FARC, it would be pretty obvious if Chavez sold any of these items to them. Beyond that, I don’t know that any of the material in question would be of use to an insurgent movement. And if we aren’t talking about the FARC, then I am not sure to whom he would sell the weapons. If we are talking states, then I am guessing the Russians would be willing to directly sell them themselves.

      Am I missing another possibility?

    3. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Back to Venezuela’s New Missiles Says:

      [...] my previous post on the latest weapons purchase by the Venezuelans I concluded with the following: At a minimum, I [...]

    4. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Military Purchases and Latin America Says:

      [...] back to the discussion of Venezuelan weapons purchases from Russia, the BBC reported yesterday that the Russians are also providing financing for the [...]

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