Thursday, May 29, 2008

The FARC with Venezuelan uniforms?

One of the curious thing about the welcome demise of Marulanda, the infamous FARC chief of decades, is the fashion and botany discussions that it provokes. It is all centered around the communique of a certain chief, code named Tymochenko (from a famous USSR general I assume). By itself the video, that I did not bother to mention then, was a silly grandiloquent affair, full of cold, cold war clichés. Timochenko did look pathetically old to be making such a speech by the way. Surely after the death and hand amputation by his body guards of Ivan Rios, I suppose that the FARC had no one young enough with enough authority to make the speech, an interesting detail about the fossilization of the FARC if you ask me.

But there are people who are paid to scrutinize any information tied up with the FARC and they have just given us some interesting tidbits. The first analysis was on the details that surrounded Teemochenko. Apparently he is wearing a Venezuelan military uniform. Noticias Uno of Colombia gives us a lovely fashion show video comparing Chavez own uniform with the one of Timoshenco. Then again this detail by itself cannot be taken as definitive: poor FARC guerrilla on the run might have stolen Venezuelan uniforms through audacious cross border raids. We are the victims!!!

But today there is a new video also offered by Noticias Uno. This time we look at the botanical surrounding. At the end of the obituary of Marulanda, Tymochenco wants us to believe that he is reading from the THE MOUNTAIN JUNGLES OF Colombia. Well, according to the expert, the plants around Teemoshenko come from the low areas of Amazonia or Orinoquia, that is, close to the plains of the Orinoco and Amazon. Even more, the botanist says that the landscape was "intervenido" which means that it was not closed jungle but a more open environment (cut down through man intervention). You can figure out that by yourself when you see the lonely tall standing tree behind the announcer, indeed a very rare vision ion a real jungle. It seems indeed that the guy is standing next to some field or pasture, and not in the mountain.

Other questions also came to the forefront, even from the BBC. First, there might be a fence close to the spokes-guerrilla. That is, we are not in the jungle and we might be in some farm or distant settlement. When we consider that at least three video cameras were used to make the video, that some folks seem to detect the hum of a generator, then we might at least be at the end of a road so all that materiel could be carried. At the very least Timo was alone, no rag tag guerrilla honor guard was shown as it would have been fitting for such an epochal moment. Not to mention the editing capacities that the craft of the video imply, not the kind of editing that can be made on the run in the jungle, according to some experts.

There are also questions about the timing that the BBC worries about. Hernando Salazar even guesses that the video had long be made but its release was sped up by Colombia's government announcement. Also the video does not carry any funeral/dead images of Marulanda. Did he really die of a heart attack or was he blown by a bomb and they could not get any funeral footage?

Finally, the big question for us in Venezuela: how much of this did Chavez know? His spokespeople like Piedad Cordoba would like us to believe that they knew nothing and that they were surprised. Unfortunately this is hard to believe. The video already brings an evidence on this: Who did edit it? How come Telesur seems to always have the scoops on the FARC? Remember: TeleSur is just a chavista CNN. Coincidence? I think not. In fact I think that Chavez knew all along and that he might have been involved in how they planned to announce the death of Marulanda, maybe even more than just obituary planning. The FARC are on the run, in need of fallback positions and money, with clear manifestation of support from Chavez for now several months, telltale laptops, and more. You draw your own conclusions, but mine are that Chavez is even involved in the selection of Marulanda replacement. I would not go as far as saying that Chavez has become the real head of the FARC as Fernando Londoño blithely assumes, but that he has a hand in what goes on inside the FARC I have no doubt.

-The end-

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