A Big Little 'Border War'




 
--
Boots
 
March 10th, 2008  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: A Big Little 'Border War'


Washington Times
March 10, 2008
Pg. 17
By Georgie Anne Geyer
There loomed another of those tiresome little "border wars" in Latin America. Just another example of Latinos foolishly fighting one another over the cocaine and kidnappings that are sapping a rich continent's potential. Obviously, it's not something we need pay a whole lot of attention.
That is what many Americans think when Latin America breaks into the news consciousness of the world, as it did last Saturday (March 1). But that analysis is wrong this time. The attack by Colombian troops a few miles into Ecuador against the vicious guerrilla group FARC does not, strangely enough, fit into the historic pattern -- and this is what makes it dangerous.
While it's too early to confirm all the details and suspicions that have arisen in developments surrounding the raid, the fact is there are too many alarming details NOT to pay attention.
For starters, the position and true character of Venezuela's increasingly pretentious President Hugo Chavez have now been revealed as never before.
Until now, it was possible to think of Chavez as simply a slightly loony leftist out of the Castro "campamento," as someone who essentially wanted reform but, as so often in militaristic Latin America, looked for it in all the wrong places. But that blithe dismissal of the confused by the comfortable of the hemisphere is no longer possible; Chavez has allied himself totally with the members of the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
These "guerrillas" bear little resemblance to the political guerrilla movements, say, in Central America in the '60s and '70s, which Fidel Castro so enthusiastically sponsored. These are simply murderers, drugtraffickers and kidnappers-for-cash. They hold some hundreds of innocent captives in the jungles of Colombia and Ecuador (there are 120 camps along the Ecuadorian border alone, according to students of the movement) in conditions so brutal one could compare them to Saddam Hussein’s treatment of his prisoners.
Yet Mr. Chavez calls on the world to see the FARC as a “real army.” And now we have the opportunity to see Hugo Chavez as what he really is: an Americaobsessed barbarian.
Not confirmed yet, but with enough evidence behind them to give one a case of the geopolitical nerves, are the accusations of Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos that Colombian forces had found evidence FARC had been seeking the ingredients to make a radioactive dirty bomb. Indeed, just this week, he spoke at a U.N. disarmament meeting in Geneva:
“This shows that these terrorist groups, supported by the economic power provided by drug trafficking, constitute a grave threat not just to our country but to the entire Andean region and Latin America.”
The Colombian government has further averred that a laptop of the senior FARC commander killed in the raid, in which 20some others also died, shows they were negotiating for 110 pounds of uranium; while further information showed Mr. Chavez was channeling $300 million to the FARC. The Colombians want to take him to the International Criminal Court. There was also, the government said, a “thank you” note from Mr. Chavez to the FARC for supporting him with $150,000 in his 1992 coup against the government. (Manners, siempre manners, muchachos.)
Then there are the fuzzier intentions, the questions we have to leave outstanding. Responsible reporters say every week now, for instance, several planes arrive in Caracas directly from Iran; Iranians walk off and disappear into the Venezuelan Chavista bureaucratic maze, while the planes go back empty.
The questions: Are Mr. Chavez’s well-known Iranian ties also involved in the machinations of which the FARC is accused? Are we possibly dealing with a new terrorist lode declaring itself in what was once Latin America’s supreme democracy? Could this lead to major regional warfare in Latin America?
There are some who it’s possible. Professor Miguel TinkerSalas of Pomona College noted on the “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” this week after the initial attack that President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who adjudges himself and his country as the harmed parties, “is right now on a tour of South American countries trying to garner support for his position. So it’s clear that this is what many countries in Latin America feared, that the conflict in Colombia would become a regional conflict, drawing in the neighboring countries.” On Friday, however, the presidents of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador agreed to step back from a military confrontation.
The predominant regional danger, of course, is that the handful of countries that have elected presidents from the far left in the last decade — a group dominated by Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador — are now ready to confront more democratic governments such as those of Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Venezuela had dramatically announced earlier that it was mobilizing its forces “by air, land and sea” and Ecuador had already sent troops to its border with Colombia.
The United States, of course, also plays its inimitable role in this Latin drama. It has dramatically supported Colombia and its democratic president, Alvaro Uribe, with more than $5 billion in U.S. military and other aid since 2000, and Mr. Uribe has used it to make progress against the increasingly hated FARC. With this attack — and the new clarity of his intentions — Mr. Chavez’s all-consuming hatred for the United States, which he blames for everything, is no longer in question.
A more complicated issue is how the United States, with its overwhelming commitments across the world and its lack of interest in Latin America, can — or, more important, will — deal with these troubling new developments.
Georgie Anne Geyer is a nationally syndicated columnist.
 


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