- Title: VENEZUELA: Venezuelan civilians and soldiers train to repel a possible invasion
- Date: 6th March 2006
- Summary: TWO CAMOUFLAGES SOLDIERS LEAVING A TRENCH HIDDEN IN THE GROUND (2 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 21st March 2006 12:00
- Topics: Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA9TQQI9LM6GZ3GQRE3M7FJZTCA
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: At a rural military base on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuelan officers have started classes in unconventional warfare to repel an invasion left-wing President Hugo Chavez warns Washington may attempt.
Snipers draped in foliage and civilian reservists armed with knives, catapults and handguns crawled out of a hidden tunnel in a demonstration as instructors lectured on resistance tactics.
Captains, lieutenants and majors strained behind a cordon to make out another soldier camouflaged inside tree perch as he fired a bow and peppered a uniformed dummy target with arrows.
"If no one comes, (then that's) perfect, we will continue as the free and sovereign country we are, but we cannot permit that any foreign force tries to invade," instructor Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Benavides said as gunfire cracked from a firing range during the weekend training.
Locked in a fierce confrontation with the U.S. government, Chavez is building up civilian reservists and has ordered the armed forces to adopt a doctrine emphasizing "asymmetric war" or resistance war against a more powerful foreign force. Officers are taught about Vietcong guerrilla attacks on U.S troops-- including the use of secret tunnels, poisons and home-made weapons-- and have been sent to Havana to learn civilian-military cooperation.
Officials said an initial batch of 500,000 civilian reservists and territorial guard volunteers will start four-month basic training at weekends.
Washington dismisses Chavez's charges that it plans to oust him to control the world's No. 5 oil exporter and brushes off his invasion talk as sabre-rattling to stir up nationalism and mobilize supporters before elections in December.
But tensions are high as U.S. officials portray Chavez, a self-styled socialist revolutionary allied with Cuba, as a negative influence in Latin America. Washington has opposed Venezuela's recent arms purchases and the reservist drive.
Critics worry about the reservists may be used to crackdown on foes of a president they say has become more authoritarian in a drive to copy Cuban communism.
Venezuelan officials said that after training, reservists, who get a stipend of around USD$8 for each training session, could be armed with old FAL rifles currently used by the armed forces after regular troops get 100,000 new Russian Kalashnikov rifles.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None