Santa Elena, Venezuela (VA)– Venezuelan Colonel Jose Martin Raga was detained Wednesday after Newsweek en Español published an interview in which he shared his critical perspective on the Bolivarian government, while maintaining his support for the revolution. The military official was released today without charges, after his arrest took social media by storm.
“I am Chavista, I believe in the [revolutionary] process, but I’m not a fool,” Raga told Newsweek, “The economic war exists, that’s a reality, but […] We, the military are part of that economic war.”
“If we don’t accept our reality, our internal corruption, our weaknesses, if we don’t tighten the discipline and sanction those responsible, this will turn into a disaster,” he warned, explaining how corruption throughout all ranks of the military was underpinning border smuggling and black market trade.
Marisol Bracamonte, Raga’s wife, was met with outpourings of support and outrage after she confirmed her husband’s arrest at 4AM on Tuesday.
The hashtag “I am Chavista, I support Raga” quickly became a trending topic on Venezuelan Twitter, as left-wing supporters claimed they identified with the colonel’s analysis.
“The colonel does not speak of rebellion or conspiracy. He speaks of supporting the president and rectifying the process,” Bracamonte wrote, adding “There are so many infiltrators sabotaging from within institutions, meanwhile they put a radical Chavista in jail.”
Possibly the most controversial of Raga’s comments was a bitter evaluation of the relationship that exists between violent crime and Venezuelan security forces.
He asserted that police forces have been corrupted to that point that “policemen are often greater criminals than the ones they’re set against.”
The military man also lamented the simplistic training of young soldiers, saying “We teach all those boys who come to the barracks how to hold a weapon, and when they’re discharged and back in civilian life, what do they do? They join a band of criminals because the only thing they know how to do is hold a weapon […] We must teach them useful skills!”
The interview took place when Newsweek reporters visited La Mariposa, an 800 hectare reserve designated by Hugo Chavez in 2003 as part of the Vuelvan Caras mission, which was overseen until this week by the colonel Raga.
The reporters said their plan was to write a feature on the cacao and homemade chocolate produced in the area, but the conversation with Raga took a turn after he was asked to elaborate on the political views he regularly shares via his Twitter account @josemartinraga, which has 5,500 followers.
On his profile, the colonel describes himself as loyal to Maduro, while identifying as an agricultural worker, painter, anti-imperialist patriot, and Chavista.
According to media, Raga has been removed as director of the La Mariposa.
Although no official declarations have been made, Bracamonte thanked president Nicolas Maduro this afternoon via Twitter for securing her husband’s release.
This was written by Z.C. DUTKA for Venezuelanalysis.