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Chávez helps bring peace to Colombia and Ecuador - maybe
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela once complained about the United Nations that the world’s presidents go to its headquarters in the United States, make presentations and then leave. But none seems to listen to another and they never have discussions among themselves about world problems.
However, Friday, March 7, presidents from the sister nations of the Rio Group did face one another and they let the whole world watch them. They were involved in name calling and accusations. But after disagreeing and verbally fighting with one another, they were able to shake hands and leave the meeting with a promise to this region of the possibility of peace. A volatile situation had been defused.
It is interesting that this purely Latin American group was able to achieve something that the Organization of American States, based in Washington and including the U.S. and Canada, was not able to achieve. And if there is one party in the conflict who must be terribly unhappy with the outcome of the meeting, it is the United States. The U.S. is not interested in peace in the Southern Hemisphere.
It is also of importance to note that it was the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, who made the proposal of bringing a conclusion to the conflict. That, too, must irk Washington. He will not be forgiven for this interference in Washington’s plans for the region.
My hope now is that the presidents of Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua will sit down together someday soon, without the presence of advisors and without the presence of microphones (even hidden ones) to have a long conversation. As President Correa pointed out the conflicts between Colombian and other countries have been resolved for the moment, but the conflict within Colombia must also be resolved. That has to be a point of discussion.
But for the moment, peace between the nations has returned to this part of the world. That’s good.
I do not trust Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe. I watched him yesterday as he stood up and ran around the table at the meeting of the Rio Group and shook hands with the presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua. I saw him kiss the female presidents of Argentina and Chile. I heard him say that Colombia would not repeat actions such as happened last week in Ecuador. I still do not trust him.
As I think of him today, I remember a three-year-old child who had been admonished by his parents for fighting with his older brother. He accepted the reprimand, but as soon as his parents’ backs were turned, he hit his brother again. I expect the same from Alvaro Uribe.
I was not comfortable with what I saw in the Dominican Republic. One way or another, I think Alvaro Uribe is going to lie again and will once more begin to cause problems in Latin America. I do not expect him to sincerely help in the release of all the hostages. I do not expect him to work for a peaceful resolution of the problem with the FARC-EP. If he negotiates with the ELN, it will only be to set them up in opposition to the FARC-EP. Conflict is what the U.S. wants in Latin America and Uribe will continue to be its most reliable instrument in achieving this.
When I made a comment to one Venezuelan about the “peace agreement,” I was corrected by the person who said it was simply a “non-aggression pact.” I have my doubts even about that. Serious accusations were made during the past week, most related to what was supposedly in the computer of Raul Reyes: that Chávez received $150,000 from the FARC-EP when he was in prison; that Chávez recently offered the FARC-EP three hundred million dollars; that the FARC-EP helped finance the campaign of Rafael Correa; that the FARC-EP was planning to buy uranium; and, that the FARC-EP was trying to buy helicopters (!!) and missiles from a Russian arms dealer. (According to news reports in Venezuela, the arms dealer was caught through the efforts of two Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents faking as FARC-EP members.)
To think that the government of the U.S., the international press, and Colombia are simply going to let these accusations die would be naïve. They will continue to resurface at various moments, together with other “secrets” found in the computers.
With the recent death of two FARC-EP leaders, the Colombian government is going to portray themselves as winning the battle with the FARC-EP through military means, will convince themselves and the majority of citizens that they are, and will continue in this direction. It will not be interested in a negotiated peace agreement. The FARC-EP, on the other hand, will be more afraid than ever to negotiate, remembering what happened in the late 1980s, when they did return to the political life of the country and hundreds of their members were assassinated. Couple this with the recent events as they made gestures of peace and these were returned with hostility, there is little reason for them to trust the government of Alvaro Uribe.
(Interestingly Wikipedia makes no mention of what happened in the '80s in its article on the FARC. Eleazar Díaz Rangel in a recent column in Ultimas Noticias speaks of a denouncement that was made 17 December 1997 that 1,139 members of the political party, Union Patriotica, organized by the FARC in 1986 had been assassinated and further investigation raised the number to 3,000. But, he comments, the great mass media companies "do not see nor hear what happened".)
Peace? Non-aggression? Sad to say, I don’t think either will be seen in the near future.
There you have two reactions to what happened yesterday in the Dominican Republic. It will be interesting in a year or two to look back and see which was correct. I hope it will be the first, but I have my doubts.
by Charles Hardy ©
Charles Hardy is author of Cowboy in Caracas: A North American’s Memoir of Venezuela’s Democratic Revolution, published by Curbstone Press. Other essays by Hardy can be found on his personal blog Cowboyincaracas.com. You may write him at email@example.com.