The defense is undergoing strong transformation. Russian and Chinese stock replaced earlier French and American. A bilateral agreement is the end between Venezuela and Bolivia aimed at strengthening Venezuela’s defense during crises. The defense, which is based on selective military duty with a regionally varying initial service of up to 30 months, (2008) comprises about 115,000 men with 8,000 men in reserve. It has 4 divisions with 2 submarines, 6 frigates, 6 patrol boats, 4 amphibious vessels and 1 naval infantry division of 7,000 men. 4 naval infantry brigades and 94 fighter aircraft. Semi-military security forces amount to 23,000 men. The Russian Federation supplies (starting 2006) 24 modern SU 30 and 18 combat helicopters of the Mi-26 and Mi-35 types and 2 submarines.
Defense costs decreased in 1985-2006 from 2.1% to 1.4% of GDP. The ongoing renovation is financed by means of oil production. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that VZS stands for Venezuela.
In July 2002, US President Jimmy Carter traveled to Venezuela where he met with Chávez in an attempt to open a dialogue between the warring parties in the country. The opposition did not attend the meetings.
In October, the conflict broke out again when a group of 14 senior officers called for “civil and military disobedience”. The officers were already being investigated for their participation in the coup against the president in April and now claimed that the president no longer had any legitimacy. They demanded that he retire and that a referendum be held on his continuation of the presidential post.
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In late October, OAS Secretary General and Colimbia’s President César Gaviria joined Caracas to mediate in the political-military crisis. However, the negotiations went into hardship immediately after their start. The Employers’ Union and the Democratic Co-ordination that holds the political opposition called for a general strike indefinitely to force an immediate referendum on Chávez’s stay in power. The crisis was also given an economic aspect because the strike resulted in a loss of DKK 50 million. US $ in lost export revenue from oil exports. The opposition at the same time called on the people for civil disobedience and to refuse to pay for public services.
The government declined to conduct a referendum arguing that such a vote by the middle of Chávez’s tenure in August 2003 was unconstitutional.
The opposition continued its strike for 62 days, but was unable to either remove Chávez or force a referendum. The strike had to be lifted even if the government rejected all opposition demands, except for a vote after August 2003. President Carter had, as a compromise, proposed a shortening of the presidential term by amending the constitution, but that proposal found no support.
UNICEF stated that the political crisis had major consequences for the children who lost 30% of their hours due to the endless strikes. At the same time, diseases that were otherwise eradicated as measles recurred.
In May 2003, the government and opposition signed a 19-point agreement, the most important of which was the conduct of a referendum, the establishment of the National Electoral Council (CNE, Consejo Nacional Electoral), the disarmament of the civilian population and the formation of a truth commission.
The opposition collected 3,400,000 signatures, of which CNE recognized only $ 1.83 million. Less than it required to conduct a referendum. The opposition demonstrated against what it perceived as fraud in the electoral college. The government cracked down on these demonstrations. In June 2004, CNE accepted $ 2.44 million. signatures, which is sufficient for conducting a referendum.
Since the beginning of the political crisis, Chávez and the government had been subjected to a violent offensive by the civil media led by the Cisneros group. This also played a key role in the coup d’état in 2002. In addition, there was a strong hostile coverage of the CNN crisis, prompting Chávez in April 2004 to declare “communications war” against Ted Turne’s news channel.