Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | July 26, 2010

FARC = FARV

Venezuela and Colombia are at it again: Hugo Chavez broke ties with Colombia last week after Colombia denounced at the OAS the presence of 80 FARC camps and 1,500 Colombian FARC in Venezuela. Notice I say, Colombian FARC—because FARC is fast becoming FARV; that is, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Venezuela.

A Venezuelan blogger: “… what we’re seeing more and more is the Venezuelanization of the Colombian guerrilla. Unable to operate on their side of the border, and facing numerous opportunities for very profitable activities on ours, FARC is slowly morphing into FARV. And why wouldn’t they? Venezuelan farmers are easier to kidnap, Venezuelan ranchers easier to extort, Venezuelan army officers are more cooperative, Venezuelan civilian officers easier to pay off. It’s an altogether much friendlier operating environment. It just adds up.”

Further, an anonymous post on caracaschronicles.com expressed: “Well, in my opinion people on the border … not only we have to endure regular crime like people in Caracas, Maracaibo and Valencia but we are sick and tired of living under Farc’s terrorism and it was about time for someone to do something about it.”

As proof of FARC = FARV, Colombia displayed aerial photographs of what are identified as FARC camps inside Venezuela, as well as photos and video of FARC leaders, which according to former FARC who recently surrendered to the Colombian government, were taken at the Venezuelan camps.

FARC are already close cousins of the FBL, Venezuela’s Bolivarian Liberation Forces, and in late 2002, the FBL distributed a communiqué declaring their support for Hugo Chavez. And FARC and FBL are also cousins of the Bolivarian Circles, a mass movement that Chavez has been financially supporting since 2001. People associated with the Bolivarian Circles do the “public” dirty work, like verbally and physically harrassing opposition journalists.

It all points the finger at Hugo Chavez, and in characteristic manner, Chavez brought out the theatre act, enraged that Colombia would take this accusation to the OAS, which is, in fact, the proper diplomatic channel to take. Last time around, Colombia just bombed the camp, which happened to be in Ecuador, and which lead to the death of FARC head-cocaine trafficker Raul Reyes. (Incidentally, Reyes reportedly died as a result of stepping on a landmine, which had been planted by his own men, in an attempt to flee the camp, and not as a result of the air raid.) In computers seized during this raid, the Colombian computer forensic team discovered a number of e-mails which proved that Hugo Chavez was filtering money and weapons to the FARC; at least $250 million to be repaid when the FARC has taken control of Colombia. Interpol verified that Colombia did not tamper with the seized computers.

Colombia and Venezuela cannot stay mad at one-another; they are significant trading partners: Colombia’s food producers need to unload in Venezuela, and Venezuela has sporadic shortages of, per se, beef, once imported from Colombia. (Let’s assume Venezuelans can’t get  their beef so easily from Cuba; safe to say Cubans themselves don’t eat a beef-rich diet.) Since Chavez froze relations a year ago in response to Colombia allowing Washington expanded access to its military bases, trade between the two has fallen by 70 percent.

Colombia is expected to grow by 3.7 percent, slower than many of its neighbors, but Venezuela’s growth estimates are negative 3 percent—OUCHHH! That’ll break Chavez anyways— the worst in Latin America, excluding the Caribbean, according to ECLAC, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Outgoing President Alvaro Uribe has to have something up his sleeve, diplomatically. The U.S. State Department said Colombia’s allegations “need to be taken very seriously.” A senior official, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Judith Hale, made a four-day trip to Colombia to boost ties. The State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said that “if Venezuela fails to cooperate in whatever follow-on steps are made, the United States and other countries will obviously take account of that.”

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