Oooh, scary! Oil prices spiked yet again, this time to $126 a barrel, upon the publication of an article from the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal that "unnamed senior US officials" say that Scary Evil Guy Hugo Chavez may be out there scarily arming the scary FARC rebels in Colombia, a country whose rulers are just about the only ones left in Latin America that are Bush-aligned fascist thugs. Among the things alleged by the WSJ:
– FARC Commanders Ivan Marquez and Ricardo Granda wrote that they met with Chavez in November and that he had gave orders for rest areas and hospital zones to be created for FARC fighters inside Venezuela.
– Venezuelan Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin asked the FARC in an email to train Venezuela’s military in guerrilla tactics as preparation in case the United States invades.
– Regarding a 250 million dollar Venezuelan "loan" to buy weapons, Rodriguez Chacin wrote: "don’t think of it as a loan, think of it as solidarity."
– FARC commander Ivan Marquez described meeting with Venezuelan military intelligence chief General Hugo Carvajal and another Venezuelan general to discuss "finances, arms and border policy."
– The other general, who is not named, offered the Venezuelan port of Maracaibo to receive FARC arms shipments and suggested including "some containers destined to the FARC" in its own shipments of arms purchased from Russia, Marquez wrote.
– Venezuelan naval intelligence officers reportedly met with FARC guerrillas and offered to help them acquire "rockets" and to send a FARC member to the Middle East to learn how to use them.
Sounds pretty damning, right?
Well, except that they tried this two months ago, with the "computer documents prove Chavez paid FARC $300 million to make a dirty bomb" nonsense — nonsense that Greg Palast promptly squished:
This past weekend, Colombia invaded Ecuador, killed a guerrilla chief in the jungle, opened his laptop – and what did the Colombians find? A message to Hugo Chavez that he sent the FARC guerrillas $300 million – which they’re using to obtain uranium to make a dirty bomb!
That’s what George Bush tells us. And he got that from his buddy, the strange right-wing President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe.
So: After the fact, Colombia justifies its attempt to provoke a border war as a way to stop the threat of WMDs! Uh, where have we heard that before?
The US press snorted up this line about Chavez’ $300 million to “terrorists” quicker than the young Bush inhaling Colombia’s powdered export.
What the US press did not do is look at the evidence, the email in the magic laptop. (Presumably, the FARC leader’s last words were, “Listen, my password is ….”)
I read them. (You can read them here) While you can read it all in español, here is, in translation, the one and only mention of the alleged $300 million from Chavez:
“… With relation to the 300, which from now on we will call "dossier," efforts are now going forward at the instructions of the boss to the cojo [slang term for ‘cripple’], which I will explain in a separate note. Let’s call the boss Ángel, and the cripple Ernesto.”
Got that? Where is Hugo? Where’s 300 million? And 300 what? Indeed, in context, the note is all about the hostage exchange with the FARC that Chavez was working on at the time (December 23, 2007) at the request of the Colombian government.
Indeed, the entire remainder of the email is all about the mechanism of the hostage exchange. Here’s the next line:
“To receive the three freed ones, Chavez proposes three options: Plan A. Do it to via of a ‘humanitarian caravan’; one that will involve Venezuela, France, the Vatican[?], Switzerland, European Union, democrats [civil society], Argentina, Red Cross, etc.”
As to the 300, I must note that the FARC’s previous prisoner exchange involved 300 prisoners. Is that what the ‘300’ refers to? ¿Quien sabe? Unlike Uribe, Bush and the US press, I won’t guess or make up a phastasmogoric story about Chavez mailing checks to the jungle.
To bolster their case, the Colombians claim, with no evidence whatsoever, that the mysterious “Angel” is the code name for Chavez. But in the memo, Chavez goes by the code name … Chavez.
Well, so what? This is what . . . .
Colombia’s invasion into Ecuador is a rank violation of international law, condemned by every single Latin member of the Organization of American States. But George Bush just loved it. He called Uribe to back Colombia, against, “the continuing assault by narco-terrorists as well as the provocative maneuvers by the regime in Venezuela."
Well, our President may have gotten the facts ass-backward, but Bush knows what he’s doing: shoring up his last, faltering ally in South America, Uribe, a desperate man in deep political trouble.
Uribe claims he is going to bring charges against Chavez before the International Criminal Court. If Uribe goes there in person, I suggest he take a toothbrush: it was just discovered that right-wing death squads held murder-planning sessions at Uribe’s ranch. Uribe’s associates have been called before the nation’s Supreme Court and may face prison.
In other words, it’s a good time for a desperate Uribe to use that old politico’s wheeze, the threat of war, to drown out accusations of his own criminality. Furthermore, Uribe’s attack literally killed negotiations with FARC by killing FARC’s negotiator, Raul Reyes. Reyes was in talks with both Ecuador and Chavez about another prisoner exchange. Uribe authorized the negotiations. However, Uribe knew, should those talks have succeeded in obtaining the release of those kidnapped by the FARC, credit would have been heaped on Ecuador and Chavez, and discredit heaped on Uribe.
Luckily for a hemisphere on the verge of flames, the President of Ecuador, Raphael Correa, is one of the most level-headed, thoughtful men I’ve ever encountered.
It’s ironic that Bush and his buddy Uribe are hollering about Chavez’ allegedly trying to topple Uribe, since Bush (if not Uribe) has been caught actively trying to topple Chavez. (And it’s not as Bush has anything against alleged dictatorships, being as he’s been so cuddly with guys like Uribe and Musharraf and Islam Karimov. What he dislikes are governments that don’t screw the little guy — or don’t bow down to Bush.)