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Are Socialist Worker Militias Coming to a City Near You?

Is Hugo Chavez's new domestic militia what Obama was considering when he promised a "civilian national security force"?

by
Dan Miller

Bio

February 14, 2010 - 12:00 am

The website of the “Office of the President-Elect” promised that President Obama and Vice President Biden would create a civilian assistance corps (CAC):

Obama and Biden will create a national CAC of 25,000 personnel. This corps of civilian volunteers with special skill sets (doctors, lawyers, engineers, city planners, agriculture specialists, police, etc.) would be organized to provide each federal agency with a pool of volunteer experts willing to deploy in times of need at home and abroad.

I have no idea whether “corps” was intended to be pronounced as “corpse” (“Joe’s been hit! Get a corpse man over here now!”). The CAC does not exist and probably never will, so it doesn’t matter (although the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act expanding AmeriCorps does exist, with a bunch of new government employees.)

This excerpt from a speech given during the campaign, in which candidate Obama expressed the need for a civilian national security force — just as powerful, strong, and well-funded as the military — does matter. The military had 1,379,551 soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen on active duty as of September 30, 2007. The civilian assistance corps, with only 25,000, couldn’t be the same as the civilian national security force, could it? Of course not — that couldn’t happen in the United States!

Following candidate Obama’s military-magnitude civilian national security force speech, there was a bit of an uproar in the vast right-wing blogosphere but very little in the mainstream media. The right-wing take was scary, and the mainstream media silence was as well. I have no inside information on what candidate Obama may have meant; he does have a way with words.

A RAND study titled “A Stability Police Force for the United States: Justification and Options for Creating U.S. Capabilities” was released in 2009. While it suggests some interesting possibilities, they seem to have very little to do with the creation of a civilian national security force comparable to the military. Mainly focused on fixing problems in other countries, the study does suggest seemingly modest augmentation of the U.S. Marshals Service to deal with U.S. domestic difficulties, and notes that use of military forces for such purposes would require relief from the Posse Comitatus Act. The study concludes:

The Marshals Service has the broadest law enforcement mandate of any U.S. law enforcement agency and many of the required skills, though it would need to increase its capacity significantly. Furthermore, the Department of Justice stands at the center of the rule-of-law effort, with lead roles in policing, judiciary, and corrections efforts.

It seems that neither the civilian assistance corps nor the stability police force has much to do with President Obama’s campaign promise of a civilian national security force comparable to the military. Perhaps the threat promise was just another campaign flourish, like transparency and bipartisanship. It may simply wither on the vine and die.

Nevertheless, there is an interesting and possibly relevant situation in Venezuela, from where President Obama and his colleagues seem to get some of their unhealthiest ideas (see Honduras). According to this article:

President Chavez’s socialist worker militias have grown to nearly 150,000 members since their formation in 2009. Organized by President Hugo Chávez in May 2009, the “workers’ militias” are intended to allow Chávez’s political party to assert control over key economic sectors.

According to a Jan. 29 report in the Venezuelan El Universal newspaper … [most of] Chávez’s workers militias work in “strategic” economic sectors, such as oil, electricity, transportation, and “basic companies.”

Those sectors are Venezuela’s most dysfunctional.

Orlando Castillo, with the Socialist Workers Front, a Chávez-allied group, was quoted by El Universal as saying that the purpose of the militias was to use the labor troops to “defend the people.” …

“There need to be many more,” he said, “because they represent the idea of the integrated worker who is capable of producing and also of defending the people.” …

In Venezuela today the militias are made up of individual workers who are armed with guns and trained to ensure that their respective companies comply with the agenda of the ruling United Socialist Party.

“With rifles there beside them, in case anybody makes a mistake with us,” Chávez is quoted as saying at a May 2009 socialist transformation workshop where he announced the militias’ creation.

There are also separate “socialist patrols” with approximately 300,000 Venezuelans, busy strengthening the United Socialist Party in the workers movement. It was questioned here whether “this [is] what Mr. Obama was envisioning when he mused about the need for a civilian force that would match the size of our military.”

Do the words “SEIU” and “ACORN” ring a bell?

On February 2, Chávez announced that Ramiro Valdes would come from Cuba to deal with Venezuela’s electricity crisis:

[Valdes] has been with the Castro brothers from the beginning of the revolution and today is arguably the No. 3 man in the Cuban hierarchy. … As interior minister, Valdes oversaw secret police operations and gained a reputation for being ruthless when it came to suppressing dissidents.

He has no engineering experience in the electricity sector, aside possibly from this:

[Since] 2006, he has been the minister of computer services and communications, where he has applied his know-how in the area of repression, and today is considered the person mainly responsible for censorship of the internet in Cuba.

Chávez also seeks, and from a compliant national assembly will soon get, additional controls over the internet. He considers Twitter an instrument of terror.

President Obama has many czars and other advisors, and they could well help to put the United States on a similar path:

Federal Communications Commission Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd has praised the “democratic revolution and rise to power” of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. He also has called for white media executives to step down from their posts so minorities can take their places.

Cass Sunstein is also problematical:

As head of OIRA [Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs], part of Sunstein’s authority includes “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs”

Why is Chávez doing these things? There are at least two theories:

One says it is because he feels threatened and weak now that he is faced with hunger, unemployment, rampant inflation, crime, widespread corruption, and the serious electricity crisis for which he himself is largely responsible and that threatens to scuttle the revolutionary process. His strategy would seem to be to crush protests by sowing terror in the population.

Chávez is indeed threatened. In addition to the other crises confronting him, two former commanders who had joined Chavez in his failed 1992 coup attempt recently called publicly for his resignation and stated that he no longer has “moral authority” to govern.

The other hypothesis is that he perceives the opposition as being weak and divided and, on top of that, he feels he is in such a strong position that he considers that the time is now or never if he is to set up his communist dictatorship once and for all.

Chávez’s perception that the opposition is weak may be based in part on recent gerrymandering of voting districts to benefit his allies in the September elections. Despite a large disapproval rating of 55 percent opposed to 39 percent favorable — a 16 percent negative rating compared to President Obama’s recent negative rating of 15 percent — the gerrymandering may work.

Sr. Valdes is hardly the first emissary from Cuba to take the leadership in things Venezuelan:

Thousands of Cuban “doctors” fell on Venezuela’s poor urban areas or barrios and villages and worked from the program’s modules, where, in addition to providing primary health care, they also set about raising people’s awareness of the virtues of communism. According to official figures, these “doctors” today number more than 30,000, quite apart from the 6,000 specialists engaged in “training” general medical practitioners and health technicians in Venezuela.

Health care in Venezuela has gone from acceptable to terrible during the past decade.

Two other sectors that have been subjected to Cuban penetration are education, with more than 300 “collaborators,” and sports, where some 4,544 sports technicians are apparently helping to get the masses to practice sports and physical education.

Cuba also has control of ports and airports and is present in the transportation, agribusiness, food, construction, and tourism sectors, to name but a few. Now it is also in the electricity sector.

However, what should give people most cause for alarm is the handing over to Cuba of the National Identification System and the public registrars and notaries, because this allows it to control the citizen, his identity, his documents, and his property.

These governmental and quasi-governmental entities are of tremendous importance in Venezuela and in other Latin American countries such as Panamá. Without them, it is impossible to do business or even to buy or sell property or to make transactions which most of us consider routine.

Chávez also signed a bilateral agreement with Havana that allows Cuba’s police and state security personnel to perform intelligence and police activities that, constitutionally, should only be carried out by Venezuelan officials. The Venezuelan president has even adopted Cuban military defense and national security doctrines.

When Chavez celebrated his eleventh year as president and said he plans on eleven more, he said:

“I anchor myself to Christ, whom I’ve loved since I was a little kid and above all after the coup d’etat” that briefly deposed him in April 2002, Chávez added, going on to ask his supporters to always be on the alert to prevent that from recurring because “the devil never sleeps.”

“The true and only Christ is the redemptive socialism of this planet and it resurrected itself here,” he reiterated, adding that it didn’t matter to him if others said the opposite.

To be fair, el Presidente Chávez said nothing in his eleventh anniversary address about causing the oceans to recede, the Earth to heal, the blind to walk, and the lame to see.

During the 2008 U.S. presidential primary and general election campaign, many kids were indoctrinated and offered praises to the “more Christ-like than Jesus” candidate Obama. It has been suggested that Obama campaign-like indoctrination may be perpetuated by the Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan. William “just a guy in the neighborhood” Ayers thinks very highly of Chávez and the Venezuelan educational system. As a guest at the World Education Forum in Caracas in November of 2006, he exclaimed:

I bring greetings and support from your brothers and sisters throughout Northamerica. Welcome to the World Education Forum! Amamos la revolucion Bolivariana!

Education can be a powerful force, for evil as well as for good. Fortunately, evils inculcated by an educational system can sometimes be overcome, albeit with difficulty.

Also during his eleventh anniversary speech, Chávez said:

“I free myself from all personal ambition, despite what the scrawny (opposition members) say. Let them say what they want about me, I don’t pay any attention. The eagle doesn’t hunt flies, let them gab if they want to because I don’t pay them any mind,” Chávez said. …

I call them into the streets, the people to the streets, the streets belong to the people and not to the oligarchy. They don’t belong to the children of the sellout oligarchy,” he said, repeating what he had declared upon being sworn into office for the first time on Feb. 2, 1999: “Let those who love the fatherland come with us.”

In Venezuela, many students have in fact got out of hand:

Students started leading protests last week after the government pressured cable and satellite TV providers to drop an opposition channel. Students have organized demonstrations in cities across the country, accusing Chávez of forcing Radio Caracas Television International off the airwaves as a means of silencing his critics.

Chávez challenged the students to continue staging demonstrations, saying they won’t weaken his socialist government. But he warned them against stirring up violence, suggesting authorities would break up protests that get out of control.

“Don’t make a mistake with us. You’ll get a firm response,” Chávez said during a speech to his supporters at Venezuela’s largest military fort.

When opposition students did take to the streets recently, as they have been doing with increasing frequency, Chávez was not amused. There are some interesting pictures here.

The situation there is far worse even than the New Black Panthers could manage if they tried really hard.

The United States is not Venezuela, and has a long and strong history of individual freedoms. However, it sometimes seems that she is suffering from Big Government Syndrome and that she is heading into the abyss. Nevertheless, transformation into a Venezuelan style dictatorship “of the proletariat” would be extremely difficult. On a brief personal note, when my wife and I were in Venezuela back when Chávez had just been elected, we thought about settling in the mountains around Merida. It is a beautiful place up in the mountains, with a university close at hand and all sorts of cultural attractions. We thought, “Chávez is just another guy; maybe he is a bit odd, but what harm can he do?” Still, we feared that he might go wild. President Obama is now at about the same point in his first term as was el Presidente Chávez back in 1998. Perhaps seeing what Chávez has been able to do to screw up a beautiful country has jaded me. Even recognizing this, I am very worried about the future of the United States.

President Obama is either incompetent or malicious, and it probably makes little difference which. If he is incompetent, he has plenty of czars and advisors to manipulate him. I don’t know whether he selected them or they selected him. In any event, it seems that he seriously intends to use all of the substantial resources at his disposal to direct the country toward increased governmental control. In either event, he remains the most powerful man in the country. Despite a “dead cat bounce” in President Obama’s approval rating immediately following his State of the Union message, it is now back in the minus fifteen point range. Still, control of the private sector is growing like Topsy, ObamaCare remains on the (operating) table, and it seems as though President Obama still has his mind set on forcing on the country changes which are not wanted by the stupid masses who cling to their Bibles, guns, and outdated notions. In the process:

By deceiving the public as to his real agenda, ignoring virtually all his campaign promises, dealing with his cronies and contributors behind closed doors while rewarding their loyalty, and by his profligate spending, President Obama has done more to destroy faith in the future of the United States than any of his predecessors.

The ship’s rudder remains semi-functional, but the navigator’s compass is broken beyond repair and he seems to have no inclination to find a new one.

Dan Miller graduated from Yale University in 1963 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1966. He retired from the practice of law in Washington, D.C., in 1996 and has lived in a rural area in Panama since 2002.
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