Miguel's text on Rodriguez Chacin candidacy for Guarico state forces me to finish this post I was pondering for a while. Miguel certainly describes well the character but he seems to have missed the bigger picture that is emerging. For this I have drawn this very amateur map of what will Venezuela drug routes look like soon, and where the FARC will take temporarily refuge once the Havana talks between the Colombian government and the FARC conclude (1).
See, it has been a long held belief for many that Chavez has never ceased to support the Colombian narco guerrilla FARC. Let's say that his support is more or less open according to the circumstances but it should never be doubted as it is part of his fantasy to recreate a Bolivar Gran Colombia. Chavez has always been a reactionary, never forget. That he was silly enough to believe that the FARC would surrender their leadership to him were they to win their insurrection is another story. The point is Chavez is delusional enough for such things.
The other thing is that Chavez has been relentlessly pursuing a policy of securing wide swatches of territory that could be used for all sorts of illicit activities, from drug growing, to drug smuggling and FARC hideouts. I am not going to insult your intelligence by bringing links into this post: by now it is commonknowledge that the FARC is settled inside Venezuela and that it operates its ransom and drug business with the help of not insignificant sectors of the Venezuelan army duly identified by the USA DEA. What has congealed it all for me, leading to this map, has been the insistence of Chavez to place its most trusted and talibanic personnel in crucial states as I will explain below.
First, let's start with the actual situation, represented by the red indented curve, zones of easy Colombian Army Surveillance. Those are the zones where Colombia can fly drones, of which Venezuela has complained. But also in these zones the Colombian army can infiltrate spies with a relative ease, as easily as the FARC has settled them The limitations for Colombian surveillance is that the Andes are an obstacle for drones, and the Apure river and Maracaibo lake are obstacles for commando raids from inside Colombia. I am not saying that Colombia did them, I am saying that it could do raids if it wanted to and the FARC knows that.
The next element to consider is that the entry routes for Colombians irregulars in large numbers is through the two busy border areas where they can blend in without too much trouble I have circled then in mauve. Penetration through the Apure border is somewhat more difficult as the roads are not good, there is no safety in numbers, and the Colombian army can monitor that much better.
The last element is the combination of Colombian army successes and fading Chavez and Castro. So, something had to be done to preserve a runt FARC for better days, along the profitable drug business which now involves too many inside Venezuela. The current drug penetration route is through Apure state, the first red arrow. But everyday Colombia and the US spying technology improves and there is a clear need to push further inside Venezuela the drug storing areas. And that is what I do with the second arrow that goes inside Guarico.
Chavismo has been preparing large swath of territory for a long time. This has been done through expropriation of farm lands which ruin the country side. Thus this one is become more discrete because there are less honest farmers to monitor activities, but also because a lot of these expropriated lands are now under military control, and FARC control as needed. Plenty of land, in a new growing jungle with many hide outs where drug cartels and FARC can jump around for improved hiding conditions.
Now when you look more carefully at the expropriation patterns over the last 6 years and the candidates running currently for governor you see a new "route" emerging for the FARC and drugs that reaches Guarico.
The road starts at the border crossing. Certainly Tachira is now the least chavista state of the country but it still retains the only real roads to get inside Venezuela, roads that are controlled by the Nazional Guard. So, all in all, the crossing risks there are easily compensated by the difficulties to move people and loads through the Apure border.
Once the border crossed you reach the Southern part of Zulia which has been extensively ravaged by Chavez policies two years ago, Sur del Lago. Now I am certain that there are plenty of hideouts for a night stay available in that hot and humid area.
From there you go to Trujillo, another state with a lot of expropriation and under chavista control since 2000. Nothing else than one of the main drug capos of the Venezuelan army has been dispatched to run for governor there. Rangel Silva, in the DEA lists, is almost certain to become governor next December and thus that mountainous and jungle covered area will be the nexus of the Colombia-Venezuela "irregular" communication.
Next our caravan goes down to the flat lands of Portuguesa and Cojedes. Portuguesa state is already controlled by a military governor close to Chavez, and has been duly corrupted since 2000. Cojedes next has also been in chavista hands but apparently the current governor was too incompetent even for chavismo and Chavez decided to send there one of its more militant taliban, Erika Farias who has even patriotic pro Chavez tattoos on her body, we are told. She was one of the few ones allowed to be seen in Cuba with Chavez when he was getting cancer treatment there.
Which leads us finally to the piece de resitence, Guarico. The sate is arguably the one that has most suffered from expropriations and thus it is the one which has the most land available for FARC resettlement once the Havana talks are concluded. It is wild, distant, cored by a huge national park, and on the other side of the Apure river, at a reasonable distance of the Colombian border, but still not too far that FARC can discretely use waterways to sneak inside Colombia agents as needed. From Guarico it is very convenient to redistribute drugs through crucial areas. One is solidly inside chavismo, the Orinoco delta, and the other one, Maragarita island, is under intense pressure to have yet another chavista general suspected of illegal activities to become its next governor, courtesy of the MUD follies unable to force a primary on the current and worn out one.
Rodriguez Chacin is the perfect governor: he has all the contacts and trust of the FARC as seen on TV. He is vicious and corrupt so he will have no qualms in settling things in favor of the FARC, expropriating undesirable neighbors finding the necessary proxis for land deals, offering fake ID as needed, etc, etc... The people of Guarico? Fine, thank you very much, they can find work as peons in the FARC compounds. I'll bet you that the national park smack in the middle of Guarico is not going to be developed for tourism whatsoever but will host a surprising number of "resorts" and landing strips.....
1) it is too early to speculate on how successful these FARC/Colombia negotiations will turn out. But if we assume that some "peace" agreement is reached immediate reinsertion of the FARC in Colombian society will not be possible. Thus the need of an agreed third country where the worst leaders of the FARC can find refuge until Colombia does process the new situation. Hence the participation of Venezuela in the Havana talks because, let's face it, it is the only country that can shelter legally the FARC leaders who certainly find it more convenient to monitor things in Colombia from Venezuela rather than Cuba.