Alvaro Vargas Llosa of the Independent Institute has an article listing the incompatabilities between Western liberals and Venezuela's maximum leader
The second item deserves special notice (emphasis added):
CHÁVEZ IS A HEAVY PRIVATIZER. The left has denounced the right for wanting to privatize the state. Hugo Chávez has undertaken the biggest privatization to date in Latin America by expanding the number of military reservists from 90,000 to one million. These reservists are not answerable to the army's hierarchy. In effect, Chávez has created a private militia that serves him directly. Let us not forget that a number of killings by pro-Chávez snipers have taken place over the years (most notably the murder of seventeen protesters in April 2002).
The activity Vargas describes is not an example of privatization. If this "private" force is directly answerable to Chavez, it is private in name only.
That a huge chunk of Venezuela's armed forces are answerable directly to Chavez and none of the normal military channels is indeed cause for concern. I'm not that the sentiment is shared by a Left that yawns when the Castro government guns down people who try to escape the Cuban totalitarian hellhole.
Update: Daniel of Venezuela News And Views sends me this email:
Chavez is organizing a "reserve" which is supposedly retired army officers that will direct civilian volunteers as a "body" that will help the army in time of trouble, be it invasion from the Empire or some natural disaster. These people get training on their free time and actually get paid something. Not much but enough to attract the lower classes which this way become even more dependent of government handouts.
In fact it is the nucleus of a militia since Chavez does not trust the army and what he really needs is something with which he will be able to establish some form of repression in the near future.