What was supposed to have been a public relations coup for Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez may turn out to be another political disaster just like the recent Venezuelan constitutional referendum.
Just two days ago all was said and done. Chavez was flanked by Argentina’s former President Nestor Kirchner and later Hollywood producer Oliver Stone proclaiming that the FARC had agreed to an unconditional release of three out of more than 3,000 hostages it holds. As things usual with Chavez and the FARC as well, media reports show the matter is stalled.
According to a Miami Herald story published early this morning, Chavez was telling reporters that rescue efforts could be hampered because FARC leaders fear that the Colombian military or the U.S. would learn its position in the Colombian jungles. ”The U.S. government and its imperialistic machine have spy planes and the highest technology to detect movement, camps and radio signals . . . not only in Colombia but in the rest of South America,” Chavez is quoted as saying in the Miami Herald story.
As I stated in a post last week, this proposed release should be viewed as nothing more than a coordinated public relations campaign between the FARC, Hugo Chavez, and Cuba’s intelligence services. In much the same way that Elian Gonzalez became a national U.S. media sensation and tool of the Cuban Communist Party, so do the hostages for the FARC in Colombia and in South America’s media.
With a smiling Chavez in military fatigues and donning a red beret at his side, upon arrival in Caracas Oliver Stone announced that he was in Venezuela to show that not all Americans were bad people and that there are some good people in the United States. Undoubtedly on the hunt for new movie ideas, Stone’s timing could not have come a better time for Hugo Chavez, the FARC, and their Cuban sponsors.
In addition to postings on alleged terrorist activities carried out in recent weeks, on its well-designed website, the FARC-Army of the People is still running a post that calls Colombia’s President a coward for refusing to go along with this high stakes political kabuki theatre. These people are no different from the Cuban Communist Party or the Venezuelan-led Bolivarian Movement. The FARC-Army of the People seeks moral equivalency and international recognition to hold and grow its power.
To say that Hezbollah’s Hassan Hasrallah wants peace with Israel is the same as Hugo Chavez, Cuba, and the FARC seeking a peaceful resolution to current and related matters in Colombia. The recent events surrounding the proposed hostage release turned media show for Telesur and other Latin America media clearly shows the wisdom of the Uribe Administration’s approach to this matter.
Finally on a more serious note, this hostage matter is but a recent example of how Chavez, FARC-People’s Army, and Cuba seek to destabilize the region and undermine our interests and hurt a good ally. To this end, the Bush Administration should consider a thorough review of U.S. policy towards Venezuela that includes, but is not limited to, the use of economic sanctions, the conditioning of U.S. foreign assistance, as well as regional and international cooperation on related measures. Such a review would not only be consistent with the Bush doctrine on to combat global terrorism, but would also serve as a much-needed political palliative for our good friends in Colombia.