Former Intelligence Officer Says Russian Military Bases Exist in Venezuela

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SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia—Exiled Chavista general and one-time director of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, Manuel Figuera, disclosed the locations of two Russian military facilities on Jan. 17, which are in the Venezuelan states of Carabobo and Miranda.

In a letter penned just days after Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said he could neither “confirm nor exclude” the possibility of a military build-up in Latin America, Figuera revealed the location of one stronghold hidden with the 41st Brigade in the city of Valencia, and another in Manzanares.

“They’re playing the same old game, Russia and the West,” political analyst Fernando Menendez told The Epoch Times.

Figuera stepped into the public eye back in 2019 as one of the key Venezuelan military figures supporting the former national assembly leader Juan Guaido’s ill-fated attempt to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.

Epoch Times Photo
Flanked by party members, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks during a press conference in Caracas on, Dec. 7, 2020. (Ariana Cubillos/The Associated Press)

Before the coup Figuera was one of Maduro’s top intelligence officers.

Figuera also claimed the sole objective of Russia’s military installations in Venezuela was “to threaten the national security of the United States.”

On Jan. 22 Russia’s ambassador in Caracas, Sergey Melik-Bagdasarov, responded by saying it was impossible to operate a military base in the South American nation.

“Just look at Venezuela’s constitution, which unambiguously states there cannot and must not be any [foreign] military bases in its territory.”

Further, the ambassador accused the United States of trying to prevent the independence of Latin American countries and their right to choose different alliances.

Historically the prohibition of foreign operated military holdings is outlined in Article 13 of the Venezuelan constitution, which also forbids the assignment, transfer, or lease, even temporarily or partially, to foreign states.

Yet a loophole exists in this rule, according to the president of citizen control for the national armed forces Rocio San Miguel. He said a foreign military can occupy bases in Venezuela with the express permission of the national assembly.

Figuera said the “criminal regime of Nicolas Maduro” is a threat not only to the United States, but Latin America, and the rest of the free world.

Back in 2019, the now defected general met with Maduro regularly over matters of national security and intelligence. However, after being ordered to jail and torture opponents to the socialist regime Figuera betrayed the controversial leader and supported Guaido’s coup. When the attempted ousting failed, he left for the United States.

Russia’s investment in Venezuela and long-standing support of the Maduro regime have been compared to their policies in Syria and their reinforcement of President Bashar al-Assad.

Both nations depend on Russia for critical military assets. Yet unlike Syria, Russia’s alliance with Maduro in Venezuela provides them with a critical foothold in the Western Hemisphere.

Menendez added that Venezuela is an ideal place to hide an army due to the nation’s large land mass and dense jungle terrain.

On Jan. 14, Colombian defense minister Diego Molano said he’s been aware of Russian forces in Venezuela for months.

Molano said his nation’s heavy military presence along their shared border now served a dual purpose—to combat narco-trafficking and to protect against the “eventual arrival of Russian military forces.”

Autumn Spredemann

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Autumn is a South America-based reporter covering primarily Latin American issues for The Epoch Times.



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