Hugo Chavez accused the US of fomenting a war between Venezuela and Colombia as part of an effort to colonize his nation. The socialist leader insists that he wants nothing but peace, but failed to explain why he mobilized ten battalions to the Colombian border without any provocation from Alvaro Uribe’s government. Meanwhile, the US has managed to get Ecuador and Colombia into negotiations to dial down the tensions:
President Hugo Chavez charged Wednesday that Colombia and its allies in Washington are responsible for the intensifying crisis in this region — and said perpetual conflict with the United States is inevitable.
“It must be said: They, the empire and its lackeys, are war. We are peace. We are the path to peace,” Chavez said in a televised speech, his first since Colombia alleged that documents found in a leftist rebel’s computer show the Venezuelan leader has been supporting Colombian guerrillas for years.
Chavez, who ordered 10 battalions of troops to reinforce Venezuela’s border with Colombia after Colombian troops entered Ecuador on Saturday to attack a rebel hideout, spoke as diplomats struggled to defuse the crisis.
In Washington, the Organization of American States approved a compromise resolution drafted jointly by Ecuador and Colombia that declared the raid a violation of Ecuador’s sovereignty. It also called for OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza to lead a delegation to both countries in hopes of helping them calm tensions.
In related news, the US has expressed some skepticism over claims by the Uribe government that FARC intended to build dirty bombs from uranium. Reporters given access to the memos say that the group discussed reselling the material to international terrorists for fundraising, not for making bombs themselves. The difference is hardly academic, although the uranium itself apparently is. So far, no one has produced any evidence that FARC even attempted to find uranium, let alone purchase it.
As far as fomenting war goes, the US seems to be acting against that interest. While fully supporting Colombia’s right to defend itself against FARC, we apparently got Colombia to admit that they violated Ecuadorian sovereignty in their raid. The last thing the Bush administration needs at the moment is a South American entanglement over FARC, especially with the open issues in Afghanistan and Iraq. That doesn’t mean the US would not come to Uribe’s aid, but despite Chavez’ rhetoric, we aren’t looking for a fighting war in the jungle, either.
The situation remains very touchy. Chavez still has his army mobilized on the border, but Uribe has pointedly refused to follow suit. Colombia wants to de-escalate the tension, sensing that it has overplayed its hand in the FARC raid and has alienated more than just Chavez and Ecuadorian leader Rafael Correa. Uribe would do best by allowing Chavez to bellow a while and then declare victory and go home. He got what he wanted in the raid, and the intel showing Chavez as a terrorist financier will do its damage.