The Washington Times reports so so. While the Moonie-owned paper has its agenda, there are solid tidbits of information here. The picture above (courtesy of Jonathan)shows a Venezuelan soldier -id. via Venezuelan flag in his kit - in Evo Morales' entourage during one of the symbolic takeovers of an oil company in May Day :
Opposition leaders are calling for the government of President Evo Morales to investigate charges that Venezuela is sending arms and military personnel to organize a special militia for the ruling Movement to Socialism (MAS).
Lawmakers of the conservative Podemos party cite immigration records that show nearly 100 Venezuelan military officers have entered Bolivia since Mr. Morales took power in January.
"How many military personnel of foreign armed forces have entered Bolivia during 2006, what are their movements and under what agreements are they here?" asks a letter presented by Podemos deputy Fernando Messmer to Defense Minister Walker San Miguel.
Immigration lists, which name the Venezuelans and have been published in Bolivian newspapers, show that 85 of the military officers arrived between Jan. 11 and Jan. 23, shortly after Mr. Morales was sworn into office. The new president said at the time that intelligence experts from Venezuela and Cuba had come to conduct sweeps and remove electronic bugs from the presidential palace and other government offices.
Interior Ministry officials have also told reporters that Venezuelan security specialists are training Bolivian military engineers to protect oil and gas facilities, which were nationalized with the public backing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier this month.
1. The immigration information is a matter of public record, and fact. That means that at least 85 Venezuelan military personnel are in Bolivia. Were those US military advisors there would be a storm in Bolivia and within the usual suspects outside. That is more than the number of US military advisors allowed in-country during the Salvadoran Civil War - advising an army much larger than Bolivia's engaged in a civil war against a powerful and large opponent.
2. This is just of record, how many may have entered undetected, or through slippery border regions? A couple of months ago,again, Paraguayan immigration records showed an unusually large number of Cubans and Venezuelans in the country. This was acknowledged by the Cuban embassy itself. The Paraguayan-Bolivian border is "fluid" to say the least.
3. Why were Bolivians being advised on how to guard oil installations, months before the nationalization decree and the temporary military takeover of those facilities??? What the heck were Venezuelan advisors -wearing their colors- doing at the supposed "nationalization" of a Brazilian-owned company????
4. So the government acknowledged the presence of Cuban "security specialists." Maybe Rumsfeld and US military sources were not off taret when they complained about an increase in Cuban intelligence operations in Bolivia. I received a very credible first-hand report about an encounter with a Cuban national "working" in Bolivia well before the election. Cuban's do not travel outside of Cuba without Fidel's permission - unless they defect - and this was clearly not a defector.
5. I do not think they are creating a nation-wide militia, yet. Would not surprise me if they are, given how Cuba and Venezuela have acted in the past. If they are doing it, Chapare, as the article suggest would be a start. There already is sort of a shadow cocalero army there.