Venezuela, Intelligence and Security
Since civilian government was restored in 1958, the Venezuelan military and intelligence organizations have generally operated under the control of a representative democratic government and a succession of democratically elected presidents.
Prior to 1958 Venezuela was governed by a series of caudillos or (military or military-controlled governments). Post–World War II transformations in the economy, spurred by the discovery of major oil reserves, resulted in both internal and external pressures to reform Venezuelan government.
Venezuela is a member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), the world's fifth-largest oil producer, and is a major supplier of oil to the United States.
In 2000, social unrest again began to increase in Venezuela and general strikes shut down the oil industry. As of May 2003, confrontations between strikers and government forces have imperiled the continuation in office of chief of state President Hugo Chavez. The military has shown signs of impatience with Chavez's inability to restore order and start an economic recovery. Rumor of coup attempts started to surface in late 2002.
Venezuela continues to be a major exporter of cocaine to the U.S. and local drug-related battles along the border are frequent.
Venezuela's armed forces include the National Armed Forces ( Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales , Naval Forces ( Fuerzas Navales ), Air Force ( Fuerzas Aereas ), Armed Forces of Cooperation or National Guard ( Fuerzas Armadas de Cooperacion or Guardia Nacional ).
Venezuela's intelligence agency is the Intelligence and Preventive Services Directorate (DISIP) but National Guard units have also cooperated with CIA operations.
Because of alleged involvement in the support of drug trafficking, sales of U.S. military hardware, including F-16s, in 1983 was highly controversial. At the time Venezuela was seen as one of the most stable Latin American countries and a U.S. allies against leftist intervention in Central and South America.
█ FURTHER READING:
Gilderhus, Mark T. The Second Century: U.S.-Latin American Relations Since 1889. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2000.
Hillman, Richard S., John A. Peeler, and Elsa Cardozo da Silva. Democracy and Human Rights in Latin America. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.
Musicant, Ivan. The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York: Macmillan, 1990.