Our technology military race has been lagged behind. While our neighboring countries already entered the space era and make their own weapons almost in their totality, Venezuela relies on the Russians
Showing a rifle called "Catatumbo," developed by Venezuelan state-run weapons factory CAVIM, and an unmanned aircraft named "Arpía," President Hugo Chávez asserted: "We are a free and independent country," highlighting the importance of the development of the "defensive power system of the Nation." "One day we will be not only placing thousand of Tiunas (vehicles) of different models in the national market, but also exporting them. Rifles, munitions and unmanned airplanes," the Head of State indicated during a meeting at the Ministry of Defense.
Are we really a sovereign country in the military arena? Or , for that matter, are we on the way to develop our own military industry? In order to picture a clearer perspective where we are standing at, it is necessary to take a close look at the inventions made in the Venezuelan military arena and also determine what our neighboring countries have been up to.
Venezuela has become the main buyer of Russian weapons and also one of the major buyers of weapons in the Americas in the last years. This has been the main reason for military investment in Latin America. Subsequent to the military failure of Argentina in the Falkland war; Brazil, Chile and Argentina modified their policies and set into the development of their respective industries. The rest of South America, including Venezuela, barely changed such military policy.
Since 2006, the national media have been spreading the word relative to the building in Maracay, the capital city of central Aragua state ,of a manufacturing plant of Kalashnikov rifles. As a result, the country would turn into an important exporter of such type of armaments. In that very year, Venezuela signed an agreement with the Russian company Izhmash.
In August 2007, director of the company Izhmash, Vladimir V. Farafoshin, in one of his inspections over the facilities, informed that the "100,000 rifles acquired by Venezuela- were being assembled and sent to Venezuela" and that a deal to sell 5,000 Dragunov sniper rifles had been closed. Around those very days, CEO Vladimir P. Grodetsky said that the plant to be constructed in Venezuela would be producing weapons and munitions between the last quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010. In 2010, the general director of the Design Office of the plant Izhmash, Nikolai Masliaev, mentioned that Russia would finish the building of the munitions plant for Kalashnikov rifles in Venezuela by 2010.
"These factories will make it possible to hire 800 Venezuelans; for now, we have managed to assemble 3,000 rifles; we believe that the machinery will be soon available." These were the remarks from those in charge of a factory that, in the second half of 2012, only counts on 30 employees whereas other 770 are waiting to be retained. There, a pair of boxes of assembled weapons and a shipment for military trucks that have no relation whatsoever with production lines was exhibited. Seven years after the initial contract, the factory is still in its first stages of existence. The official information is that 60% of the factory has been installed and that 3,000 rifles have been made.
At the same CAVIM factory, the responsible military officers presented, for the second time, a rifle prototype (Catatumbo) equipped with bolt sniper and made in Venezuela. Earlier on August 18, 2011, it had been introduced already.
If we happen to compare our progress, for instance, with the strides of Colombia -a country technologically tantamount to Venezuela- we will find out that our neighboring country has attained in 10 years- the goals set in the military area. Their goal was basically to become self-sufficient in order to fight irregular armed groups properly.
Tiuna and Arpía aircrafts
Chávez showed on TV the unmanned airplane which in his own words- is manufactured at the military air base of Maracay with the purpose of defending national independence and make Venezuela become a military power," and not to "attack" anyone. This small unmanned airplane, which stood out as one of the most appealing during the military parade last July 5, is part of the four kits assembled by the Venezuelan technicians who were trained in Iran. It encompasses a small control remote-based airplane. It is a kit from the Mohajer 2, built by Iran for military intelligence operations. According to experts, no great technological dexterities are required to assemble it. In this case, we are talking about a version equipped with cameras. The airplane is not able to carry weapons and has only a one hour autonomy, around 100 kilometers. The model shown on TV is one of the three aircrafts assembled by Venezuela. The agreement with Iran anticipates the manufacturing of such unmanned airplanes.
The Tiuna is a multi-purpose vehicle built by the Centro Nacional de Repotenciación de Vehículos Pesados (Cenareca) produced with the purpose of counting on an owned vehicle for the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB). Nevertheless, the basic components, such as the engine and the vehicle gearbox are imported (General Motors, GM). The production costs of each of these vehicles would be quite above the cost of other similar imported items.
What are our neighboring countries up to?
Brazil, Chile and Argentina are the only South American countries which have made great strides in their military industry.
Brazil nowadays is a member of the club of the six South American countries which are able to build nuclear submarines; the first one will be ready to use by 2016. In order to attain such goal, they count on three nuclear plants. Needles to say that Brazil is a major producer of combat aircrafts such as Tucanos, armored vehicles and weaponry.
Chile constructed in 1991 the Aeronautic and Space Research Center. They have already launched three satellites into the space and have also developed software in collaboration with the NASA.
Argentina makes three types of assault rifles, sub-machine guns, and all its cannons. Further, it entered the space race in 1961; since then, it has been producing satellites and even a spacesuit.
Translated by Adrián Valera Villan
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."