Isn’t it romantic?

uribe-weds-uncle-sam.jpg

The bells are ringing for Uncle Sam and his gal, Colombia. But guess who objects to this unholy matrimony:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Colombia became a “colony” when it granted the U.S. permission to expand its military presence in Colombian territory in an accord signed on October 30th, the details of which became public on Tuesday.

“Colombia decided to hand over its sovereignty to the United States… Colombia no longer governs its territory,” said Chavez in a televised meeting of his Council of Ministers. “Colombia today is no longer a sovereign country… it is a kind of colony.”

Nyeahhhhh…mean Chavecito party-pooper!

So, what are the terms of this mésalliance, anyway?

The ten-year accord grants the U.S. access, use, and free movement among two air bases, two naval bases, three army bases, and “the rest of the installations and locations” in Colombia, in accordance with Colombian law.

The bases and any enhancements carried out on them by the U.S. remain the property of Colombia. Meanwhile, U.S. military, civilian, and diplomatic personnel, contractors, ships and planes working under the accord are exempt from customs duties, tariffs, rent, taxes, and most inspections of its cargo, according to the deal.

In addition, the accord grants diplomatic immunity to U.S. personnel. To reinforce this immunity, “Colombia will guarantee that its authorities will verify, in the least amount of time possible, the status of immunity of the personnel of the United States and their dependents who are suspected of criminal activity in Colombia, and will turn them over to the appropriate U.S. military or diplomatic authorities,” the accord states.

No, that doesn’t sound a bit like an abuse of power just waiting to happen!

Meanwhile, what are Colombians making of all this? By the sounds of things, a break for the Venezuelan border:

It is estimated that by the end of 2009, 301 Colombians will be entering the country daily. The migration from the neighbouring country is no longer the same as that experienced in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, when one person per family group migrated.

Colombian families are now collectively mobilizing to Venezuela in search of the realization of a quality of life that is impossible for them to find in their home country, given the economic conditions in which they are forced to live as a result of the armed conflict.

“…a quality of life that is impossible for them to find in their home country, given the economic conditions in which they are forced to live as a result of the armed conflict.”

Sit back and let that sink in for a moment, kiddies. That’s what El Narco’s policy–totally in line with the Washington Consensus–is doing to ordinary Colombians. It’s forcing them to flee to Venezuela, where life is ten times better at the very minimum.

And it’s not hard to imagine why, either. Let’s tally up the reasons, shall we?

Venezuela doesn’t have a fifty-plus year civil war still raging.

Venezuela doesn’t have a president with a penchant for falsely labelling his opponents terrorists.

Venezuela doesn’t have a president who likes to kill his “terrorist” opponents–or at least, stand by with hands in pockets, whistling, while the killings go on unabated.

Venezuela doesn’t have puppet strings from Washington attached at every appendage.

Venezuela isn’t loaning any of its military bases to the US.

Venezuela isn’t improving its economic figures at the expense of its people.

That last one is especially significant when you consider this:

According to figures divulged by the investigation, conducted in 16 states with a sample of 136,600 Colombians, people arrive in bulk because it is cheaper to live in Venezuela.

The reasons for the migration of 75% of those citizens are overwhelmingly economic.

According to Tanus, “the war consumes the entire budget (of Colombia) and people have to go find other means of life in other countries. Seventy-five % moved for economic reasons, but basically these reasons are a product of the development of the war, of the social conflict, because some of those 136,600 people are heads of families who come from areas where the Colombian armed conflict has unfolded.”

“…the war consumes the entire budget (of Colombia) and people have to go find other means of life in other countries.”

Yeah, I’m just loving El Narco more and more every day, reading stuff like that. So busy spending the country’s entire budget on war, nothing’s left over for public services anymore. Meanwhile, life gets prohibitively expensive. What to do but move to Venezuela, where the living is cheaper (thanks to Chavecito and his missions) and there’s no war to eat up the national budget, so these new immigrants will have no problem settling in, finding doctors, schools, etc.?

One day, Colombians will want a divorce. The question is, will they have to wait the whole ten years before this bad marriage is annulled, or will they have to wait even longer?

In the meantime, Colombia’s loss is Venezuela’s gain.

PS: Oh look, TIME has published yet another TIME-ly hit piece. Trying to debunk the facts again. I feel so sorry for the CIA, it’s really got its media work cut out for it here!

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