FARC's high command without Tiro Fijo
*** HUGO CHAVEZ IS NOW AN OPEN ALLY OF THE COLOMBIAN FARC.
The Colombian guerrillas have been at war in Colombia for three or more decades, against liberal and conservative governments alike. If they ever started out as a political group they have now become a narcoterrorist organization of the worst kind. Their main sources of financing are drug trafficking and kidnapping. Hundreds of innocent Venezuelans, and thousands of Colombians have been their victims, being kidnapped for ransom and murdered, even after their families have paid ransom. They have found haven for criminal activities in Venezuelan territory, where their leaders have been known to live under the protection of the Chavez government. In Venezuela their troops find refuge from the pursuit of the Colombian army and have established a drug transit operation involving over 300 tons of cocaine per year in their way to U.S. and European markets.
This has been known for some time, although little or nothing has been done about it by other countries or by international bodies such as the OAS or the United Nations. The Colombian government, the most affected by this Venezuelan tolerance for the criminal organization, has largely kept quiet, hoping to appease their aggressive neighbor. President Uribe has tried very hard to keep good relations with a regime that has been buying billions of dollars in weapons, from tanks to missiles to fighter jets and has openly insulted him.
Chavez has taken Uribe’s caution as a sign of weakness. In fact, he seems to be making of an increasing alignment with the FARC an important component of his foreign policy. The selection by FARC of Hugo Chavez as a mediator to release three hostages, probably helped along by a significant monetary contribution from the Venezuelan strongman, has been a clear indication of the coziness of their relationship. Although the first attempt, some days ago, failed since one of the hostages, a boy, was already in the hands of the Colombian government, FARC finally handed over the two female hostages to Chavez. This time there was no big media show. Former Argentinean Kirchner and Oliver Stone had already departed the jungle.
There was a video of the hostages saying affectionate goodbyes to their captors and some takes of the omnipresent Piedad Cordoba, the Colombian Congresswoman who has openly taken the side of the FARC. Dressed in scarlet red, like a medieval clown, the new Venezuelan Minister of the Interior, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, is seen talking on the phone continuously with Hugo Chavez. The hostages also talked briefly with Chavez, thanking him for his intervention. Almost at the end of the video comes a most important segment: the minister Rodriguez Chacin, after listening to Chavez on the phone approaches the departing guerrilla and tells them: “In the name of president Chavez I want to say that we pay great attention to your struggle… keep up your spirit and your force. You can count on us”.
To me this sounded like a pretty definite endorsement. It is fully official as the Venezuelan Minister of the Interior was talking publicly to the FARC members, in the name of the Venezuelan president. I have to wonder how Venezuela, having diplomatic relations with Colombia, can publicly endorse the main enemy of the Colombian nation, one that is trying to topple its democratic Colombian government.
There is little doubt, after seeing this video that the stage could be set for a major political an/or military showdown in the Andes, one that might involve the OAS and several Latin American countries. Hugo Chavez could be thinking of siding militarily with the FARC in order to provoke a Latin American crisis. This is his Plan B, now more probable than ever, given the string of defeats he has suffered at home and abroad during the last year.