Sundays I also tend to do a news hygiene and only pay attention to them at night, if that much. Thus it was a few minutes ago that I saw the stunning shift in Chavez FARC policies: he asked them to surrender all of the hostages without asking for anything in exchange; he said that today in Latin America guerrillas were not necessary anymore; he finished up the FARC stating that they had become just a mere excuse for the US to keep intervening in South America. The BBC in Spanish carries more complete information.
Wow! The guy definitely knows how to bounce back from the brink of disaster!
But as usual this also hides something: the information inside the Raul Reyes laptop must have been so perturbing, the FARC recent defeats so damaging that before all explodes in Chavez face, he might as well get rid of them both A.S.A.P.
With such a proposal, if it works out which remains to be seen as drug traffickers will not be as amenable to surrender their best shields, the hostages, Chavez could refurbish his image as accusations against him, no matter how true and how sustainable they are, will be seen as keeping Ingrid et al. longer as hostage in the jungles.
The FARC wins, because by accepting the Chavez proposal they get a way to leave the jungles and become a political party before Uribe finishes them off. Right now, as the succession crisis of Marulanda is far from being truly settled, it looks like the only viable option they have left is to negotiate something quick. The other option would require a couple of years of jungle hiding, on the run, until they can finally come across an opportunity to grow again. Very remote possibility. The time is for them to cut their losses, in case they are still anchored to reality. Besides the French are willing to offer exile to many of them and the less criminal of the lot can recycle as local politicians financed by Chavez. At last they will be able to have showers every night and sleep tight in a bed, without the need of mosquito nets. You know, they are not getting any younger and they cannot even trust their body guards (or Chavez babble mouth).
Chavez wins, at least for the time being. If he convinces the FARC to do so, then he will come out as the grater man. The computer files and the evidence will still exist but as long as hostages are being released and as the FARC is negotiating a political reconversion nobody will dare use them. And after all is settled, Uribe will not be president anymore, Chavez might not be president anymore ans thus nobody might want or need to go and reopen these issues.
Uribe does not win much, but then again he has won so much already... True, if the FARC were to remain fighting, Uribe could manage to change the constitution again to run for a third term (which looks very difficult anyway, more difficult even than for Chavez). But if the FARC "surrender" were to happen, Uribe would have no problem of benefiting from that to make sure his chosen successor is elected. Let's not forget that an integration of the FARC into Colombian politics could bring to light the left divisions as to whether welcome FARC in their ranks. Thus Uribe, his image refurbished in full, could finally land an FTA with the US and become the anti Chavez leader of Latin America once he leaves office.
The US wins, if anything because they will need to give much less money to Colombia. The next US president is facing troubled times and any half backed solution to Colombia's long running war is welcome.
The drug cartels are the ones with the most at stake. They lose their main protectors on the field. Thus the end result might be a division of the FARC, a liberation of a whole bunch or hostages and a small guerrilla group still bent on warfare as an excuse for drug trafficking. But this time Chavez would not support them preferring to finance the FARC political campaigns.
You have to give it to Chavez, he manages to find a way to get himself out of tight spots! At other people expense of course, even though he is the one that helped put them down, but he escapes. Oh well, that will teach the FARC to have dealt with him: now he will finance their demise. And gladly! as it will be much better than to finance the hordes of lawyers he would need for his defense at The Hague.
Truly, these laptops must contain mighty damning evidence. And now we might never know!
Meanwhile Chavez has had one of his worst weeks: within 48 hours he had to renounce his own Patriot Act and his pet project in Colombia. Someone is going to have to pay for this in Venezuela.........
[Update]: Of course, all of this could be a farce, and as a reader wrote to me, if Chavez were sincere he would be tearing down the FARC hideaways inside Venezuela. But things do not work that way. First chavismo always denied, even in front of the evidence, any FARC activities inside Venezuela, thus he is not going to prove his critics right by dismantling a FARC camp in public. And second, this is a major reversal, one that would make very difficult for Chavez to appear collaborating with the FARC for the time being. True, under the table he will keep financing them but I think that he is in agreement with the FARC and they are cornered enough that they need desperately a breather. So they must at least try to pretend that they are sincere as they know that if Chavez is further weakened by the laptops info, he will be of very little use to them at the time they need him the most. The test will come soon: if they mean it they will free Ingrid within the next month.