Bolivarian friends? Plain bandits

January 15, 2008

I meant to translate this Editorial in El Nacional, but had no time, but now BBC Monitor published it and you can read it too (link later):

Bolivarian friends? Plain bandits Editorial in El Nacional

The international news agencies had a feast yesterday with President [Hugo] Chavez’ request for the democratic countries of the world to erase the crimes and terrorist actions perpetrated throughout the past 20 years by the Colombian FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] and the ELN [Army of National Liberation] and declare them
“insurgent forces.” In other words, he has asked them to give the two groups their own political status of a movement of national liberation, status they had back in the 1960s and 1970s. However, our president has forgotten that he is shamefully raising some up in arms groups that today have industrialized kidnapping, extortion, and the protection of drug trafficking networks, thus betraying the ethical principles of a revolutionary.

Did Ho Chi Minh, the brave old man who defeated the US forces in Vietnam, ever become involved in the illegal drug trade to finance his struggle? He never did, and he never lowered himself by practicing the extortion tactics practiced in Colombia with kidnapping and with the demanding of protection money. Furthermore, that old, calm, and wise, old Vietnamese man, never recruited children to be killed on the battle fields as the FARC does.

Did Nelson Mandela during his struggle for South Africa’s freedom ever become the guardian of the drug traffickers in that vast African zone? How many extortions did Mandela practice and how many kidnap victims did he negotiate for cash and political support, as we saw in Venezuela? Did this wise former South African president ever cover up the dirty businesses of the guerrilla groups that disguised as revolutionaries to operate in Africa and export diamonds and gold to Europe? No honest revolutionary supports a guerrilla machinery whose operation depends on illegal, cruel, and criminal tactics. All we have to do is listen to the statements made by one of the two hostages released by the FARC, Consuelo Gonzalez who said that there are “people’s jails” in the Colombian jungles, jails where [Manuel] Marulanda’s people are holding dozens of hostages in miserable and infrahuman conditions.

But what is most horrifying is what Gonzalez also said, that “the prisoners who are soldiers or policemen have chains around their necks,” like the chains that the captains of slave boats during the days of the colony made the slaves wear. One of the things Gonzalez said, which she said was very painful, was “seeing the men in chains who were forced to carry those chains in a haversack on their shoulders, wherever they went.” She added that Colombia “is the only place in the world where this is happening.” For her, the way these prisoners behaved was amazing: “One would look at them and wonder: how can these people who were kidnapped nine or 10 years ago keep on going, people who have been in chains for more than a year?” She also said that all the hostages have very serious health problems.

This Dantesque picture shows the true nature of President Chavez’ guerilla friends [amiguitos guerrilleros], those he wants to turn into “insurgent rebels”.

Originally published by El Nacional website, Caracas, in Spanish 12
Jan 08.

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