CARACAS — Venezuela is training a “guerrilla army” aiming to be a million strong by 2013 to fight off a possible US invasion, an opposition lawmaker said Sunday.
“Plan Sucre” — apparently crafted with input from close ally and fellow US foe Cuba — covers the legal, logistical and other angles necessary to “transform a professional army into a guerrilla army,” Representative Maria Corina Machado told El Universal newspaper.
The former presidential candidate said she had obtained a copy of the plan, printed by an institution affiliated with the national army.
“The strategic objective is to build a new Bolivarian military doctrine” that would prepare Venezuela to be successful in a prolonged popular war against “the empire,” or the United States, Machado said, citing the document.
“This is clearly a proposal with Cuban inspiration and advice.”
She said the military plan also provides for strengthening the guerrilla force at the expense of the regular army.
The plan calls for “strengthening the territorial militias, in order to ensure the necessary strength for the overall defense of the nation, targeting recruitment levels of one million by 2013 and two million by 2019,” Machado said, citing the document.
Venezuela’s militia corps, described by firebrand leftist President Hugo Chavez as “an army of the public,” was created in 2005 to protect the country against possible “imperialist” aggression. They are considered a part of the military but report directly to the president.
Chavez, 58, is a vocal critic of Washington. The United States and Venezuela have had troubled relations for years, and have not had ambassadors in each other’s country since 2010.
The Venezuelan president, who took power in 1999, is seeking re-election in October after declaring himself free of the cancer he has battled for a year.
He has often denounced “American imperialism” and accused the United States of seeking to destabilize his government.
Machado was one of several candidates aiming to challenge Chavez in the upcoming October vote, but she was defeated in February’s primary by former Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles.
Most polls give Chavez leads of up to 35 percent to win the election.
Photo of Chavez supporters via AFP