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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hugo Chavez: Dictatorship, The Hague, or Bust!

I'm going to take a break from talking about the Democratic Primary to discuss something slightly less depressing than last night's election results: a regional war in South America!

The short version of the story for those who don't know is this: Columbia has been plagued for years by the narco-terrorist group, FARC. The Columbian version of events says that Columbian troops were pursuing a high-ranking FARC official who then crossed over the Ecuadorian border. The Colombians then followed the rebels across the border and killed them.

Ecuador was none to pleased with this violation of their sovereignty, which is understandable. However, the facts seem to suggest that Ecuador may have been harboring FARC rebels - in which case: too %#@%ing bad, Ecuador. Ask the Kurds how well harboring the PKK is working out for them. (Personally, considering what the FARC has put Columbia through over the last several decades, I feel this incursion was more than justified - it isn't like they over through the Ecuadorian government, they killed some terrorists and went home.)

So, this has resulted in Ecuador massing troops on their border with Columbia. Again, this is an understandable response - even though, frankly, Ecuador asked for it. But then, never one to miss a trick, Hugo Chavez (or Tubby Fidel) decided to mass troops on the Venezuelan border with Columbia and began to sabre rattle about Columbia's incursion.

Now, here's the really interesting part:
Colombia yesterday said it uncovered evidence on the laptop of slain rebel leader Raul Reyes showing Venezuela had funneled at least $300 million to the FARC, as the rebel group is known.

The laptop was seized Saturday when Colombia's military crossed into Ecuador to kill Reyes, its biggest military triumph in four decades of guerrilla warfare.

General Oscar Naranjo, Colombia's police chief, said the computer files also indicated Ecuadorean Security Minister Gustavo Larrea had been in contact with Reyes in a bid to get President Rafael Correa involved in the release of hostages held by the rebels to boost his political standing.
So, Chavez is pumping his petrodollars (provided by all us good, idiot consumers) into a narco-terrorist group that is trying to overthrow the government of one of his neighbors (who, coincidentally, also happens to be a U.S. ally). Hey, if he can fund Cuba, why not the FARC? Surprisingly, Columbia is none too happy with this and will bring international charges against Chavez for supporting terrorism.


(Oh, and FARC may be trying to attack Columbia with dirty bombs. Minor point.)

So, what does all this mean? Well, this would obviously be a proxy war between the U.S. and Chavez but, unless he is somehow killed (very unlikely) or deposed (slightly possible), military action of this scope would only strengthen Chavez' hand in Venezuela. He recently finally lost an election - due, in part, to the fact that the Venezuela military told him they wouldn't help him steal it - and, as it stands now, will be term limited out of office in a few years.

Give him a justification to declare martial law (one that the military leadership would probably agree with) and he's in. I'm talking about Castro in. Venezuela may see a new leader in a few decades.

In other words, let's hope the result of this is some serious international pressure against Chavez and his backing of actual, for-real, not-just-calling-them-terrorist-to-be-fear-mongering terrorists. Hopefully, that would reduce his ability to destabilize his neighbors and prop up Cuba.

Send Tubby to the Hague!

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