And another one’s gone, and another one’s gone…

Another one bites the dust! Damn, how many more myths does Chavecito plan on busting this week?

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, directed a message to the new chief of the FARC, Alfonso Cano, on Sunday, in which he called for the unconditional liberation of all the group’s hostages. Then he assured that in Latin America, “the age of guerrilla wars is history.”

“It’s time for the FARC to release everyone they’re holding in the mountains,” Chavez demanded of Cano, adding at the same time that “it would be a great gesture, a change from nothing.”

According to the president, the situation in which Latin America and the United States now find themselves “appears to be creating favorable conditions for a peace process in Colombia”, for which the release of all hostages “would be the first step” toward success.


Chavez suggested that a group of countries and worldwide institutions could guarantee the peace accords between the Colombian government and the guerrillas, “as occurred in Central America.”

“With a group of countries, I’m sure that Argentina, (Brazilian President) Lula, (Nicaraguan President) Ortega, (Ecuadorian President) Correa, Nicolas Sarkozy (of France), Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (of Spain), I’m sure they will help, even Socrates (of Portugal), the king of Spain, even the Vatican, commissions of the OAS, will help assure a respectable peace,” Chavez assured.

“I call on the world’s help from here, because I consider myself a ‘Gran Colombiano’. Enough of this war, it’s time to start talking peace. We call on the world to seek this course,” Chavez said.

Translation mine; video in Spanish at the link.

So much for the “he supports the FARC” myth.

Why would someone who’s allegedly been covertly financing and arming the guerrillas call on them openly to release all hostages and put an end to their warfare? Well, probably for the same reason he’s been negotiating the release of other hostages: Chavez has a vested interest. In what? Well, in Colombia’s peace, what else? He’s fed up with guerrilla warfare spilling over into Venezuela and Ecuador; he’s also tired of Colombian mercenaries making their way across the border into Venezuela to be used by wealthy landowners against peasants (and against Chavez’s own hard-fought-for land reforms). And he’s had it to the gills with Colombian forces barging into Venezuela, right on the streets of Caracas, to capture FARC men without so much as a by-your-leave. One can hardly blame him for saying “Basta ya”!

But wait…what’s this? Lower down in the same news item, I found:

Chavez insisted that nowadays, there is no justification for armed groups.

“At this point, it’s out of order to have an armed guerrilla movement. This has to be said to the FARC, it’s what I would have liked to say to Marulanda,” said Chavez, recalling the invitations he made to the former guerrilla leader, who died on March 26 of heart failure, and whose death was confirmed by the guerrillas on May 25.

Chavez regretted not being able to meet with the guerrilla leader, to whom he wanted to make his plea to liberate all hostages.

“I never wrote to him, because this is something I wanted to tell him in person. Let’s free all these people, that’s what I want to say to Cano!” Chavez said.

Aha. Another interesting fact comes to light. Chavecito hasn’t been writing to Marulanda! He was hoping for an open dialogue in person. It’s getting harder and harder for me to believe that story about Raul Reyes’ alleged computer, and things like this are why.

Of course, I’ve known for a long time now that Chavecito felt that way about guerrillas in general. It keeps coming back to that book by Aleida Guevara. Chavez told Guevara that back when he was a subversive young army officer, he met with a Venezuelan guerrilla leader, Douglas Bravo, in a meeting brokered by his own older brother Adan, the original leftist in the Chavez family. While he found that he and the old guerrilla chief had many ideals in common, in the end they did not conspire together. The reason? Chavez felt that the age of guerrilla warfare was over and done with in Venezuela, and that his own academic military background didn’t fit in with it anyway. He was looking for a different path to address the corruption and weak, false-fronted democracy in the land, and after breaking with Bravo, he went right on looking.

This becomes less surprising still in light of the fact that as an army officer, Chavez was called upon to intervene against the guerrillas–some Colombian, some Venezuelan–in the border regions. In the process, he also observed how campesinos were being beaten, tortured and killed; the anti-guerrilla actions were being used as a pretext for oppression. This outraged Chavez, and he wanted to see an end to it–for reasons which, I gather, are pretty self-explanatory by now.

And speaking of self-explanatory, how about this?

The Venezuelan president said that the existence of the guerrillas has been made into an excuse for the “empire”, meaning the United States, “to menace us all”.

“The day there is peace in Colombia will be the end of the imperial excuses, the main one being terrorism”, Chavez said.

For Chavez, the intentions of the US government to install a military base in Colombia, as the US ambassador in Bogota, William Brownfield, suggested, represent a menace to Venezuela.

“Now they say they will put a military base in Colombia. This is a threat to Venezuela,” Chavez said.

The military base he’s referring to will replace the one at Manta, in Ecuador, whose lease expires next year and will not be renewed by the government of Rafael Correa. It will be located at La Guajira, near the Venezuelan border, so no wonder he sees it as a threat. And given the recent incursion of some 60 Colombian troops over the Venzuelan border, that threat is far from idle. Couple that with all the anti-Venezuelan rhetoric in the major media, and you begin to see what he’s on about.

Chavez still has one point in common with his old interlocutor, Douglas Bravo: Both of them see Plan Colombia not as an anti-drug or anti-guerrilla operation, but as a massive campaign against stability, progress and solidarity in Latin America. And given the history of its abuses, it gets harder every day not to concede that these two fighting men, who differ so much in their approaches but agree so much on the basic truths, are really onto something. In the end, Chavez will prove to be right: Peace in Colombia will deprive the imperialists of their last excuse for the ongoing military menace that they’ve sustained so handily up to now.

And now you know why they’re trying so hard to discredit him.

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