Friday, July 30, 2010
COLOMBIA'S PRESENTATION to the Organization of American States about Venezuela's hosting of the FARC terrorist movement prompted a flurry of speculation about the motives of Álvaro Uribe, Colombia's outgoing president. Why, it was asked, did he want to end his eight years in office in another confrontation with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez? Could he be trying to sabotage his successor, Juan Manuel Santos, who is due to take office on Aug. 7?
Allow us to offer a simple explanation: Mr. Uribe, who has devoted his presidency to rescuing Colombia from armed gangs of both the left and the right, is deeply frustrated by Venezuela's continuing support for the FARC -- and by the failure of the international community to hold Mr. Chávez accountable for it. Before leaving office, Mr. Uribe felt compelled to make one more effort to call attention to a problem that, were it occurring in the Middle East, would surely be before the U.N. Security Council.
That Venezuela is backing a terrorist movement against a neighboring democratic government has been beyond dispute since at least 2008, when Colombia recovered laptops from a FARC camp in Ecuador containing extensive documentation of Mr. Chávez's political and material support.Colombia's presentation to the OAS last week contained fresher and more detailed intelligence. Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos supplied precise map coordinates for several of the 75 FARC camps that he said had been established on Venezuelan territory and that harbor some 1,500 militants. He showed photos and videos, including one of a top commander from another Colombian terrorist organization, ELN, sipping Venezuelan beer on a popular Venezuelan beach.
Mr. Chávez responded with predictable bluster, breaking off relations with Bogota and threatening (not for the first time) to cease oil exports to the United States. Another crisis with Colombia probably benefits the caudillo, who is desperate to distract attention from his country's imploding economy and soaring violence.
Nevertheless, the question remains: Will other democracies support Colombia against this flagrant violation of international law? The Obama administration is characteristically lukewarm. The State Department, which has designated the FARC a terrorist organization, said it found Colombia's allegations "persuasive" but limited itself to supporting "a transparent international process" to investigate them. Perhaps more consequentially, one of the leading candidates in Brazil's presidential election campaign, José Serra, said "it is undeniable that Chávez is sheltering these FARC" militants. Under outgoing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil has been one of Mr. Chávez's chief apologists and enablers. Were that support to be withdrawn, Mr. Chávez might have to rethink his terrorist alliance.
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