Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Venezuela and Colombia

Recently I suggested that Alvaro Uribe wanted to allow Juan Manuel Santos to enter office as the conciliator with Venezuela from a position of strength.  The Venezuelan response may mean that strategy is working quite well.


Venezuela's U.N. Ambassador Jorge Valero asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting Monday afternoon to distribute a letter to the other U.N. member states which expresses hope that President-elect Juan Manuel Santos does not follow "the warmongering plans" of the U.S. government and Colombia's outgoing President Alvaro Uribe.
It also expresses hope that Santos, who takes office on Aug. 7, "gives clear and unambiguous signals that it has the political will to resume the path of dialogue, taking into consideration that the current government of Colombia has severed all diplomatic bridges with Venezuela."

So Uribe makes the accusations, which are now very public and therefore Venezuela cannot just ignore them.  Santos becomes president, says "I am not Uribe, let's discuss this FARC issue calmly" and Hugo Chávez must either accept the offer or look bad refusing.

16 comments:

Vicente Duque 10:53 AM  

Mr Weeks :

I watched anchor "Daniel Viotto" in CNN Spanish. He was interviewing Former Venezuelan Trade Minister Moises Naim.

Moises Naim said in this program that he was totally convinced that Chavez gives sanctuary to the FARC Guerrillas, and that he gives all types of help to FARC. And that most of his friend diplomats believed so.

This is a weighty and heavy opinion !

I have not been able to get this CNN Video. I can not find the interview in newspapers or magazines.

Who is Moises Naim ??

Editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, Moisés Naím, relaunched what is now one of the world's leading publications on international affairs and winner of the 2003 and 2007 National Magazine Award for general excellence. Foreign Policy circulates in 161 countries and is simultaneously published in twelve languages.
International Politics & Economics

Dr. Naím has written extensively on international politics and economics - especially about the unintended consequences of globalization. His opinion columns appear every Sunday in El Pais, Spain 's leading newspaper, and are reprinted by most major newspapers in the Spanish-speaking world. Naim's articles also appear regularly in Italy 's L'Espresso and often in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, and TIME. For the last ten years his "Missing Links" column in Foreign Policy magazine has exposed the surprising effects of the many ways in which the world is now interconnected.

The Future of Foreign Policies :

Prophesizing.com

Vicente Duque

leftside 2:14 PM  

Santos becomes president, says "I am not Uribe, let's discuss this FARC issue calmly" and Hugo Chávez must either accept the offer or look bad refusing.

Unfortunately, I don't think Uribe's real objective is to get Chavez to the table to "discuss the issue calmly." I've seen no evidence that Colombia has offered dialogue. Chavez, however, has offered peace talks many times. He's offered to try to convince them to lay down their arms and discuss the larger border issues. He's gone as far to say the FARC are providing the Empire "an excuse" for inetervention. Of course, he's also played a very constructive role in the release of hostages (continuing to call for releases even after he was told to cease and desist direct negotiations).

If Colombia was smart they would use the moral authority of Chavez and Castro to talk peace. Uribe has shown no inclination to do so. It is yet to be seen whether dialogue interests Santos. If so, there should be no doubt Chavez could play a key role - one which he would relish.

My reading is that, rather than asking for calm dialogue, Uribe is making demands. He is insulting Chavez and spreading falsehoods for political reasons. Uribe knows that no one can eradicate guerillas from such a huge border region - after all most FARC camps are in Colombia. He knows Chavez has arrested several important FARC leaders and broken up many camps.

I have seen no evidence that Uribe has ever tried to provide Venezuela actionable inteligence that has been rebuffed. Sending old photos and coordinates is useless practically - the rebels are surely long gone from there. So this is theatre. This is not a serious attempt at dialogue and diplomacy.

Justin Delacour 4:52 PM  

If Colombia was smart they would use the moral authority of Chavez and Castro to talk peace.

I wouldn't say that Alvaro Uribe is not smart. He's very smart in the Machiavellian sense that he knows how to serve his own political interests. The problem is that Uribe's interests are totally contrary to the interests of peace, human rights, and regional cooperation. Uribe has nothing to gain from peace because, when and if peace ever comes, his belligerant form of politics will be rendered superflous. Uribe is like Alberto Fujimori. Once Peru's internal conflict was resolved, all the scandalous details of his Administration could no longer be suppressed in the name of national security. Alvaro Uribe faces the same problem. He needs to manufacture threats to Colombian national security so as to prolong his own political survival. This makes for a very combustible situation, whereby the Colombian right is likely to continue manufacturing conflicts with Venezuela so as to portray itself as a bulwark against the Venezuelan "menace." That's a very convenient way to keep the U.S. aid flowing, and it's also the only way that Uribe can deflect attention from the horrific details of what has transpired under his watch.

leftside 6:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
leftside 6:21 PM  

Astute analysis Justin. I was trying to make much of the same point - that Uribe has not shown a real interest in dialogue or peace - despite it being in the interest of Colombia.

theCardinal 8:50 PM  

ahhh...it's been so long since I subjected myself to the Justin/Leftside echo chamber. I like the new meme opposed to the old. I don't think Uribe, after working so hard to get Santos where he is would undermine him before he even takes the oath. Moreover, Santos has remained reticent during the entire mess...too reticent for a president to be.

leftside 12:52 PM  

I don't think Uribe, after working so hard to get Santos where he is would undermine him before he even takes the oath.

Uribe only worked to get Santos elected AFTER the Courts ruled he could not serve and after his preferred candidate was also disqualified. So it is clear Santos was not Uribe's first choice. And every indication is that the two have a rocky relationship. Certainly there are important commonalities, as well.

theCardinal 1:30 PM  

I agree and it is true, but I still think it would not suit him to undermine him so soon. If Uribe has not been hit in the popularity in this I believe it is because everyone knows he is stepping down for now. Semana even ran a story essentiall asking "Why Now?"

leftside 2:03 PM  

Boz and our host have been trying to argue that Colombia is only after dialogue and that Venezuela is trying to divert attention from that to avoid having the discussion.

However, I haven't heard them mention that Venzuela actually called for further dialoge and discussion 3-4 days ago - and that discussion is taking place tomorrow. But instead of a display of political theatre at the OAS, where the US is there to back Colombia and twist arms, Venezuela and Bolivia called for emergency discussions at UNASUR (where the US is not present).

The difference in venue is critical in coming to a resolution of this "crisis." For it can no longer be denied that the US is playing a heavy unconstructive role here. The US was alone in immediately backing the Colombian claims at the OAS with a prepared statement, showing close coordination. And take a look at this VOA editorial - "representing the views of the US Governement":

In it, they start off by saying that questions about the rebels presence in Venezuelan goes back "almost a decade." Of course, everyone who is trying to be fair would have to admit the claims go back much further, well before Chavez. And as Justin pointed out, Colombia did not accuse Chavez until relatively recently. So this attempt at historical context is actually pure propoganda.

Next, the US reiterates its support for the OAS taking jurisdiction over the investigation they feel must take place (it is like UNASUR demanding access to the US to study the inflitration of Mexican gangs or Cuban terrorists). The US and Colombia are desperate for OAS control because they see the writing on the wall, knowing that Colombia has been isolated every time it has gone to UNASUR.

Next, the US adopts the line of Boz and our host, that Chavez has sought to "divert attention from the larger issues" by escalating tensions. They too ignore UNASUR's meeting tomorrow on the issue. Of course, if Venezuela wanted to truly divert attention from the issues they would not have requested they be discussed at a regional forum in 4-5 days time. But nevermind simple logic when you can infer motives from scratch.

Finally, the US hypocritically reminds Venezuela of its anti-terrorism committments. Hypocritical because the US is currently sheltering the biggest terrorist the hemisphere has ever seen - one who is wanted on a valid extradition request by Venezuela (Luis Posada Carriles). The US and Colombia also know how hard it is to secure its borders, a point made by Insulza on CNN Espanol yesterday.

Weisbrot has a piece expanding on all this at the Guardian.

Boli-Nica 3:19 PM  

LOL....I took Delacour's ramblings, and changed the country/leader, and it actually makes sense, and applies.




I wouldn't say that Hugo Chavez is not smart. He's very smart in the Machiavellian sense that he knows how to serve his own political interests. The problem is that Chavez interests are totally contrary to the interests of peace, human rights, and regional cooperation. Chavez has nothing to gain from peace because, when and if peace ever comes, his belligerant form of politics will be rendered superflous. Chavez is like Alberto Fujimori. Once Peru's internal conflict was resolved, all the scandalous details of his Administration could no longer be suppressed in the name of national security. Hugo Chavez faces the same problem. He needs to manufacture threats to Venezuelan national security so as to prolong his own political survival. This makes for a very combustible situation, whereby the Venezuelan left is likely to continue manufacturing conflicts with Colombia so as to portray itself as a bulwark against the Colombian "menace.

Boli-Nica 3:53 PM  


If Colombia was smart they would use the moral authority of Chavez and Castro to talk peace. Uribe has shown no inclination to do so. It is yet to be seen whether dialogue interests Santos. If so, there should be no doubt Chavez could play a key role - one which he would relish.


LMAO...the "moral authority" of Fidel Castro. Thats like asking for the "moral authority" of Augusto Pinochet.

And, the truth of the matter is that Colombia has maintained a fairly friendly relationship with Fidel - despite the fact of Cuba's well documented training and arming of the M-19 and ELN in decades past. In fact, Colombia has supported calls for the end of the embargo.

Uribe uses Cuba as an intermediary to negotiate the end of the ELN insurgency, and has praised Castro for that, and for his declaration of the futility of armed insurrection.

Basically, Uribe does good with Fidel, because he is a pragmatist, who doesn't want a nightmare scenario, where the Cuban military's stock of Russian shoulder-held SAM's ends up with the FARC through Venezuela. Or where the hundreds if not thousands of Cuban military and intelligence personnel in Venezuela end up advising and training the FARC's incursions in Colombia.

I think in a perverse way, the Colombians like having thousands of Cubans doing all sorts of military and intel work in Venezuela, because it means Castro can prevent Chavez from doing really stupid things. Wouldn't surprise me if the Cubans themselves were feeding the Colombians some of this intel.

leftside 1:12 AM  

Boz, whatever you think of Castro, he certainly carries moral authority with those whom it matters in this case - the guerrillas.

Uribe recognizes this, hence Cuba's role in the ELN negotiations that you rightly acknowledge. But you try to argue Uribe uses Cuba as a mediator because they are scared of Cuba helping the rebels if they don't. That's nonsense. If you believed that, why doesn't Colombia also use Chavez? Yes, Cuba once provided assistance to rebels, but that ended about 35 years ago ago. Cuba has not helped any rebel group in about that long. So your argument holds no water. Instead, Colombia recognizes the unique moral influence Cuba can provide.

leftside 1:04 PM  

Above was directed at BoliNica not Boz.

ConsDemo 7:44 PM  

Unfortunately, I don't think Uribe's real objective is to get Chavez to the table to "discuss the issue calmly." I've seen no evidence that Colombia has offered dialogue. Chavez, however, has offered peace talks many times. He's offered to try to convince them to lay down their arms and discuss the larger border issues.

Not quite. Chavez wants Colombia to recognize an armed terrorist group as a legitimate political force that can demand (and get) accommodation while he makes none for peaceful opposition in Venezuela. He is a major league hypocrite on the issue. In any case, it is hard to take Chavez seriously as a mediator when he gives the FARC sanctuary. Chavez isn't neutral, he favors the FARC.

....he's also played a very constructive role in the release of hostages (continuing to call for releases even after he was told to cease and desist direct negotiations).

Not really, there was the grand release he tried to set up a few years ago when he invited other south American leaders to participate and it turned out to be farce because the FARC wasn't in possession of all the hostages they claimed. The government of Colombia has achieved the most significant releases on its own.

Justin Delacour 4:50 AM  

Chavez is like Alberto Fujimori. Once Peru's internal conflict was resolved, all the scandalous details of his Administration could no longer be suppressed in the name of national security. Hugo Chavez faces the same problem.

Actually, the politics of Venezuela are entirely different than Peru's under Fujimori because Venezuela has had no internal armed conflict to resolve. There will be no Venezuelan mass graves to dig up or Venezuelan "desaparecidos" to find, so the analogy doesn't hold up.

The proper comparison is between Fujimori and Uribe because Fujimori and Uribe are two presidents whose political careers will be defined by (1) their efforts to erradicate armed insurgencies and (2) their atrocious human rights records. On purely empirical grounds, Chavez does not belong in this category.

This makes for a very combustible situation, whereby the Venezuelan left is likely to continue manufacturing conflicts with Colombia so as to portray itself as a bulwark against the Colombian "menace.

That doesn't even make sense because there is no effort by powerful countries to paint Colombia as a "menace." To the contrary, all U.S. efforts are oriented to painting Venezuela as the menace, not Colombia. Colombia has a concrete interest in posturing as a bulwark against the Venezuelan "menace" because such posturing will help keep U.S. aid flowing to Colombia. Venezuela has no comparable interest in posturing as a bulwark against a Colombian "menace" because there is no external power to grant Venezuela any reward for doing so.

Try again, Boli-Nica.

ConsDemo 6:47 PM  

Venezuela has no comparable interest in posturing as a bulwark against a Colombian "menace" because there is no external power to grant Venezuela any reward for doing so.

To the contrary, Chavez seeks to keep the Venezuelan public focused on nonexistent foreign threats rather than internal problems in Venezuela.

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