Friday, April 29, 2011

Left in Venezuela

When talking about the thaw between Venezuela and Colombia, the most common focus is how it annoys the U.S. government and Alvaro Uribe.  But it also annoys the Venezuelan left, which is furious that Hugo Chávez arrested a suspected member of the FARC, Joaquin Perez.

The move is considered a betrayal among many Chavez supporters, including prominent lawmakers, journalists and at least one former minister. It has provoked a furious reaction.
"Next we will be the chased and arrested," said Luis Alvarez, one of about 200 protesters outside Venezuela's Foreign Ministry, "This is terrible and dangerous for the whole international revolutionary movement."
Protesters set ablaze an effigy of Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, calling him and Information Minister Andres Izarra "traitors." Some anger also was directed at Chavez, as shown in road graffiti that said "Chavez, betrayal is not revolution."

The idea that going after the FARC is betrayal is not likely shared by too many Venezuelans, so it is entirely worth it for Chávez to risk their ire and improve relations with Colombia.  That will be beneficial for gaining moderate votes in 2012 and for the economy.


leftside 8:01 PM  

It did not get much coverage, but I noticed that Colombia recently annoucned that there was no more FARC camps in Venezuela. Uribe could not let this stand however, and promtly tweeted an implication that this was false. I am sure it will not stop the Chavez's opponents from making the charge, but it helps when the Colombian President is on your side.

ConsDemo 4:08 PM  

I think Santos later backed off that comment but it is clear that Venezuela is no openly hospitable to the FARC. The deportation of Becerrra is tied to Colombia's willingness to return Walid Makled to Venezuela. While its true Chavez can weather any disenchantment on his left, it isn't likely he is taking steps such as this (and meeting with Porfirio Lobo) out of any new found moderation. Rather, he really wants to get Makled, which makes one wonder how much dirt Makled really has on the Venezuelan govt.

Justin Delacour 10:28 PM  

This post doesn't clarify what's at issue. All that we know is that the arrested person is a journalist who --along with a number of other Colombian exiles in Europe-- writes for a small news organization (ANNCOL) that is sympathetic to the FARC. The people who write for ANNCOL are mostly former members of the leftist Patriotic Union party who fled Colombia under threat of death in the '90s. As far as I know, the Colombian government hasn't presented any actual evidence that Joaquín Pérez Becerra is a FARC member. In the Colombian president's statement about the issue, the main so-called "crime" that he attributed to Joaquin Perez Becerra is that Perez spread propaganda in Europe. To imply that anyone should be arrested and imprisoned on that basis would be highly problematic, to say the least. Unless the Colombian government has concrete evidence that the journalist was engaged in logistical support for the FARC, it is perfectly understandable that some people will look critically upon this journalist's arrest in Venezuela.

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