At some point today the Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the leader of the Bolivarian (anti-American) Axis, will greet several hostages that have been held for several years by the Colombian terrorist organization, the FARC. Or so they say, again.
Yesterday, Chavez and Argentina’s former President Nestor Kirchner held yet another impromptu press conference in Caracas to discuss the potential for a new phase for peace between Colombia and the separatist FARC. Chavez said that such peace is necessary to complete his vision of a united Bolivarian Union of countries in South America and throughout the Western Hemisphere.
As I watched these images on Spanish television from South Florida during the Christmas holiday, I thought I was in a political twilight zone. This is same individual that has likely been providing aid and comfort to the FARC during the past few years who, there is no doubt about this, is staging a hostage release during the Christmas season aimed mainly at politically weaken President Alvaro Uribe. Chavez, the peacemaker canard, will likely be ignored or glossed over in our media. Make no doubt about it though, as far as Latin America is concerned, this is big news in South America and also continues to directly undermine our interests in the region.
What the U.S. should do about Hugo Chavez, the Bolivarian Axis, and its leadership that is highly orchestrated from Havana by the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban intelligence services, should be a policy non-issue.
Supporting Colombia and the Uribe Administration remains a top priority. In addition to the much delayed free trade agreement and funding to support our long-standing commitments to anti-drug efforts, we should explore new and update policy options for use in South America that are responsive to the new post-09/11/01 political landscape that takes into account such things as Venezuelan adventurism on Colombian territory. The Uribe Administration has earned our support and while we can tinker with the specifics every now and then, we have a strategic interest in being pro-active, postive players that do not second guess our partners at every turn.
In addition to supporting our good ally Colombia, we must respond accordingly to this Bolivarian Axis issue by dealing with the intellectual fuel of this quixotic yet politically and economically distracting matter. When all is said and done, with the possible exception of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and a few others that support the Bolvarian movement will choose trade with the U.S. market than the Chavez/Castro sideshow. And while it may not be as readily apparent to many observers, the Cuban Communist Party and its intelligence apparatus are as indispensable to this question as is Venezuela’s oil money and its charismatic leader. It must be dealt with once and for all and in accordance to clearly laid out policy options in U.S. law.
Without the intellectual and intelligence hub, the Bolivarian Axis spokes will whither on the proverbial political vine. To this end, we need to apply an even more robust program of U.S. sanctions aimed at the Cuban government that further delegitimize the Communists in the eyes of the Cuban people and the Latin American Left while making the way for the re-integration of Cuba into the Western Hemisphere system.
While the release of innocent civilians held hostage by terrorists is always a cause for celebration, it is a bitter sweet moment for many other families whose loved ones, including several American citizens, are still being held by the FARC. Yet make no mistake about what is taking place here today. Chavez and the FARC leader Manuel Maralunda are engaging in a high level performance of political kabuki theatre, a peacemaker canard that cannot obliterate from our memories the victims that have died at their hands during the past few decades.
For every good turn, expect two or more bad deeds from these people. They have come to this process without clean hands. We should respond accordingly.