Colombia-Venezuela conflict so far a war of words, documents and denials, no signs of convoys and tanks

March 3, 2008

We woke up this morning to news of documents surfacing from the guerrilla camps which had severe implications for both Ecuador and Venezuela. In the first batch, documents obtained from the computer of the dead guerrilla leader Raul Reyes talk about contacts with the Ecuadorian Government in which an emissary of that government offers guarantees for a meeting which supposedly was going to take place in the capital of Ecuador. It even suggests that Ecuador is asking the FARC for training in mass events. Separately, it describes a meeting between Reyes and the Minister of Security of Ecuador, which the Ecuadorian Ambassador to Venezuela confirmed was happening n Venezuelan TV, but said it was all part of humanitarian efforts.

The documents suggest that the relations between Chavez and Correa are not enjoying their best moment. In the same set of documents, the FARC Secretariat explicitly says that the release of the hostages frees the FARC from that “load”while giving Hugo Chavez a leading role and there is some relief from the pressure to release the hostages.

In one of the most cynical statements, Reyes says that the Ingrid Betancourt remains the “dark” point in the whole affair and proceeds to call her “rude” and a “provoker”, because she has a volcanic character in dealing with the guerrillas in charge of talking care of her. What did he expect after the way she has been treated? Some sweetness?

Then in the afternoon, Colombian authorities revealed that other documents compromise the Venezuelan Minister of Justice and that there is a communication from guerrilla leader Ivan Marquez, who visited the Venezuelan Presidential Palace in very visible fashion last month and who says that Venezuela will finance the FARC to the tune of US$ 300 millions of dollars. The note also expresses that Chavez is quite grateful because the FARC contributed abut US$ 50,000 to Chavez when he was in jail at the Yare prison in the nineties after he sated his bloody coup in 1992. It also mentions the FARC acquiring 50 kilos of Uranium, but no details were given.

The Venezuelan Government declared all of that to be simply lies, while the Colombian Government said it would not mobilize any troops near the border.

Meanwhile the Venezuelan Government continued its strident speech, defending the FARC as if they were a humanitarian group, while condemning the Colombian Government for killing Raul Reyes. The French Government revealed that it had been Reyes who they had been in contact with in Colombia, releasing the news before it was known elsewhere.

There were of course no explanation from the outraged Ecuadorian as to why they had allowed the guerrilla groups inside that country after persistently denying their presence in that country. And there were clearly suspicions that Chavez was doing the same on this side of the border, protecting FARC leaders and even hostages.

Of course, Colombia did wrong by daring to attack the guerrilla camp inside of Ecuador, but that in the end is a sovereign problem between Colombia and Ecuador and has little to with our own country.

Curiously, there is absolutely no evidence of the so called mobilization ordered by president Chavez yesterday. Everyone has been on the lookout for military convoys and tanks but so far there is little evidence that any movement is in place, raising the issue of whether this was once again Chavez hot air, which was simply disregarded by the Venezuelan military.

But even worse is the fact that President Chavez irresponsibly announced these mobilizations and the possibility of a confrontation with Colombia, without any prior consultation and on National TV.

The truth is Venezuelans don’t want a war with anyone and the ties between the two countries are too sentimental and strong for this.

But this is the problem when a country elects a military officer as President. More so, when this man has shown that he does not understand that democracy is not the obliteration of your enemy with laws and maneuvers, but respecting and working with them so that everyone can live in peace and prosper in the country. But such is the adventure that having Chavez as President has become. As he has lost his popularity, his actions are becoming more questionable and dangerous to Venezuela and our future.

Note Added: Funny, one of the “lies” that appeared on the documents, that the Ecuadorian Minister of Security met with Reyes, has been confirmed by the Minister himself. Of course, everything else in the documents is fake. Does that include the presence of the FARC in Ecuador?

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