Monday, March 03, 2008

A quiet Sunday afternoon in San Felipe: war with Colombia? what war?

[update 11:30 PM]

All is quiet this first real warm afternoon in San Felipe for the season. I mean, warm as in the heat we normally get the rest of the year instead of the breezy 27 ºC we tend to get from December to February. But this was about the only thing hot in San Felipe today: no sound of army rolling trucks on their way to the Colombian border, no caravans of people chanting their support to the beloved leader in preparation of a war with Colombia. Maybe elsewhere, such as the sitting public servants in Chavez's Sunday show, but in San Felipe nothing disturbed the peace of a normal Sunday afternoon (1). And not only I live inside the city so I would be aware of anything particularly unusual, but as it turned out I was seeking more pictures for my next follow up and that made me drive in front of the Nazional Guard command post of San Felipe, not knowing yet Chavez words. I can assure folks that the command post was as quiet as it gets. Obviously they have not gotten the phone call to pack and leave for the border.

I have been resisting myself writing on the killing of Raul Reyes yesterday. I really think it is irrelevant in some aspects, and I have already written a lot about the FARC lately. I think also that the post of yesterday is closer to the real reality, so to speak, of Venezuela, and perhaps illustrates the reason why Chavez is seeking foreign adventure so people do not inquire about how many homeless, squatters, shanty dwellers are still in Venezuela in spite of 9 years of social revolution. Besides I have written that a war with Colombia is suicidal for Venezuela and my opinion has not changed. If Chavez indeed enters a war against Uribe he probably will be booted out of office by its own army before he provokes its destruction.

And what can happen in Colombia? Will we see if Reyes was the real chief? Will we see again Marulanda who has disappeared for months? Will there be an internal war of succession? IS the FARC that powerful that it matters really who is the boss? El Tiempo in fact thinks that it is a chance for the more "moderate" wing of the FARC to take over the radical wing of Reyes and even is there a predictable violent reaction of the FARC in the next few weeks, the log term prospects have gotten better yesterday.

What we can be sure is that more hostages are going to die and not necessarily due to Colombian army bombs as inner scores are settled within the FARC. Ingrid might be released tomorrow or might not be released ever, or once dead. It is pretty much up to whomever is watching over her right now and I bet you that it crossed his or her mind that to surrender to Colombia's army offering Ingrid might be the best way out of the jungle into some form of normal life somewhere.

No, the real interesting detail yesterday, besides Reyes elimination, was the reaction of Chavez. Reyes might be important for Colombia but it is really a Colombo-Colombian matter even if he was shot on the Ecuador side of the border. The rest of the world, well, they might as well stop holding their breath and set down.

But Chavez of course cannot do so. Not only he is pissed at Lina Ron for stealing the limelight on hostage release day earlier this week, but this action of the Colombian army definitely puts into an increasingly distant background his FARC "humanitarian" successes. After all, once Ingrid is dead who is going to care in the world about any FARC hostages? Once Reyes is out, who can do anything about hostage release until the FARC sorts out its internal matters?

So Chavez pathologically needing to be the center of attention, unable to resit his butt-in tendencies declared yesterday that if Uribe were to attempt the same stunt inside Venezuela, there would be war, "causus bellis" [sic] it would be (2).

This is of course a grievous mistake on his part because his subconscious betrayed him: there must be indeed reasons for Uribe to order police actions on the Venezuela borders. With this simple menace Chavez in fact admits that the Venezuelan border is nothing more than the rest area of the FARC guerrillas and that these ones roam around in Venezuela. We already knew that, of course, and for memory just the case of Granda should be mentioned. But Chavez yesterday implied that the FARC operates freely in Venezuela and that he is protecting them and that he supports these terrorists and drug traffickers enough to go to war for them. I cannot underestimate the meaning of this, the real meaning that is, beyond the military flourish that Chavez would like the world to think.

He also asked whether Colombia was becoming the Israel of the region, which also betrayed his antisemitism: anti semites are experts at finding ways to criticize Israel but not Jews, with sometimes a certain justice one must say, at the drop of the hat, even if the analogy with Colombia is rather debased.

Anyway, I am not holding my breath on the prospect of war. It is showmanship, that is all.

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Update: Ooops! It looks like the computer taken at Raul Reyes camp had information that would point out to a direct link between the government of Correa and the FARC, à la Chavez. That would explain the harsh position assumed today by Correa whereas yesterday he was behaving much more like a head of state. I mean, let's start from the beginning here, how come Reyes was in Ecuador? Don't they supervise their border over there? Or has Ecuador become equally a haven for the FARC as Venezuela is? Truly, if there is a smoking gun of the sort toward Ecuador current administration, expect trouble for Correa as his opposition is not as wishy washy as the Venezuelan one that could not even supervise the first scandalous shipments of oil to Cuba.

Suddenly the potential for major political trouble for the whole area has got up a big notch....

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1) The video of today's new insults of Chavez toward Uribe is also quite fascinating. It comes from Telesur and you can appreciate at time the red shirts applauding hysterically the inanities of Chavez. It is short so even if you do not understand Spanish you can get the gist.

2) The video of the moment where Chavez attacks Colombia is fascinating, in particular the second half as taken from the state TV news. You can observe all the grimacing of Chaevz, all the manipulation, and how much he looks like any mafia Don, impressive. The "causus bellis" is at 1:06 for those who do not understand Spanish.

-The end-

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