Where the World's Views of America Come into Focus
Original Article (Spanish)
The chief of Venezuela's Defense Council Secretariat, General Melvin Lopez Hidalgo, said that a "Popular Reserve" of a million people is being set up to defend the country from a possible invasion from the United States, he told the newspaper Ultimas Noticias.
"It will not be a parallel military service, nor a presidential military service, but it will be a strategic reserve force. The force will not depend on the Argentine military, will not operate within it, but will be of the country, nourished by the whole country, and activists will train and act where they live and work, in the oil wells, in order to defend them or destroy them in case of invasion," he said.
"In a year we will have a functioning popular reserve force, which I call the National Reserve. It is already being formed, and will integrate almost a million people into the nation's defense and train them in the use of armaments that will be used to defend the country from a possible invasion from the United States," Lopez said.
In an exclusive interview with the newspaper, Hidalgo said that National Reserve would work on the margins of "the traditional" reserve force, already constituted under the Armed Forces that fall under the command of General Mario Arvelaez Rengifo.
Lopez denied that the National Reserve parallels the army, as the opposition charges, although, "it will depend on the needs of the National Armed Forces."
Lopez rejected charges that the reservists would be used to intimidate or persecute adversaries of the government, because "the weapons will be under control" and because "it is not for attacking ourselves, but to defend us."
He promised that "we have determined that real threats" against Venezuela exist and that the United States in cooperation with other countries has already "rehearsed" an invasion of the country.
"The armies of United States have already planned a joint invasion with Spain, Great Britain and other countries, particularly those that invaded Iraq, during a joint exercise known as 'Balboa.' This exercise demonstrated what they know about our situation, and their intent to act against us," Lopez asserted.
Lopez said that he had held a meeting with the U.S. military attaché, during which the attaché "tried to apologize."