BY FABIOLA SANCHEZ
CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez has been filling top posts in Venezuela’s armed forces with hardline political loyalists, raising concerns among critics that the military leaders might not accept the results of this year’s election if it goes against him.
The man named defense minister this month, Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, has been the bluntest: “A hypothetical opposition government starting in 2012 would be selling out the country; the Armed Force is not going to accept that,” he told a Venezuelan newspaper in 2010.
Rangel had joined Chavez in a 1992 attempt to overthrow the president of the time, as did Chavez’s newly appointed Military Aviation commander, Gen. Jose Gregorio Perez Escalona. The new head of another key military branch, the National Guard, also is tightly tied to the leftist leader.