Earlier this week, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said, yet again, that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez has been helpful in the war against the FARC terrorist group.
“President Chavez has said: ‘If you find a FARC camp in Venezuela, give me the coordinates and we will respond immediately.’ When we have given him the information, he has responded,” the Colombian President said recently to Radio Caracol.
This is either clever brinksmanship by the Colombian government or a naive policy that will result in many disappointments in the near future. I tend to think the latter.
Placating a tin horn dictator is not a good thing. Hugo Chavez is dangerous fool. Moreover, the Venezuelan opposition needs all the help it can get from regional powers, including from democratic Colombia. Bolstering Chavez’s image as a legitimate leader does not help freedom lovers in Caracas.
The Colombians, and their “expert advisors” in Washington, DC, may think that playing nice with Chavez will keep him at bay. They would be wrong. Chavez is a facilitator of terror and safe haven for those that wish ill on the United States. Support is not limited to the FARC. Chavez is a close ally of state sponsors of terrorism Iran and Cuba, as well as groups and individuals that use terrorism to advance an anti-U.S. agenda.
Chavez, like Castro and other tin horn dictators, is a liar and will turn on Colombia when it suits them. Venezuela should have been added to our state sponsor of terror list many years ago. It may irritate Venezuelan ex pats, but, it is what it is. Using Colombia as a proxy to contain Venezuelan adventurism will fail and does not advance regional stability, it exacerbates it.
Before the Colombians regret this new-found kumbaya, someone in the U.S. Congress should remind Santos that, as an ally of the U.S. (and recipient of U.S. taxpayer dollars in the form of foreign assistance) they should focus on encouraging freedom, not mollifying the Castro of South America.
Want to read more about Chavez and Obama’s Latin America policy? Search this site and you will find a few items. Also, here is a good recent piece by Anna Mahjar-Barducci.