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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April 2005, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Chavez creates new loyal reserve
By Iain Bruce
BBC, Caracas

Hugo Chavez inspects new reserve force
The force is said to be a first step to a new military doctrine
Venezuela has sworn in commanders of a new military reserve which President Hugo Chavez says is meant to deter aggression against his country.

Twenty-thousand reservists paraded before Mr Chavez at the main military barracks in Caracas.

The new formation, which the president wants to become a two million-strong force in the near future, will be directly under his command.

The move comes amid growing tension between Venezuela and the US.

The parade marked the first part of a day of events marking the anniversary of a failed attempt to overthrow the Venezuelan leader in April 2002.

Defending sovereignty

The new reserve force is an initial step towards what the Venezuelan government is calling its new military doctrine, which is also expected to involve training larger numbers of civilians to take part in local militia.

Making what is now an unusual appearance in his military uniform and familiar red beret, President Chavez said the aim of the reserve was to defend Venezuelan sovereignty against what he called imperialist aggression.

In recent months the Venezuelan authorities have repeatedly accused the US government of planning to destabilise Venezuela, and even to assassinate Mr Chavez.

The US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, has dismissed as ridiculous the suggestion that Washington might consider invading Venezuela.

However, the government in Washington has expressed concern about Venezuela's plans to buy 100,000 rifles and ammunition from Russia.

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