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August 22, 2007


gtary fouse

Hugo Chavez and his Crimes Against his Neighbors in Colombia

The current president of Venezuela has been in the news a lot in the last couple of years. Most notably for the people of his country, Chavez has been steadily steering Venezuela toward a dictatorship. Recently, he shut down the main opposition news network for the crime of criticizing him. Of course, he has been a thorn in the side of the US and President Bush, openly taunting our president and attempting to forge anti-American alliances in Latin America, most notably with Fidel Castro. At the same time, Chavez has established an alliance with the odious regime in Iran. Chavez has also been successful in establishing individual alliances in North America, specifically folks like Robert F Kennedy Jr., Cindy Sheehan and Hollywood figures like Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover. Many of these folks have traveled to Venezuela to be photographed with the dictator since they love his antics in goading Bush and opposing US policies. However, another one of Chavez’s policies has garnered less attention in the US. In addition to everything else, Chavez has assisted the Colombian rebel group, FARC in its efforts to fight the government of Colombia, Venezuela’s neighbor.

As virtually everyone in the US knows, Colombia has for decades been a focal point in the international drug trafficking picture. Colombian drug lords have not only sent tons of cocaine, marijuana and heroin to the US and Europe, but have engaged in bloody turf wars in the process. Tragically, the nation has seen incredible violence carried out by its drug traffickers, namely the so-called Medellin and Cali Cartels. In the process, many courageous Colombian police, prosecutors, politicians and journalists who have confronted the cartels have paid with their lives, and in many cases, the lives of their family members as well. Over the years, the cartels largely succeeded in either intimidating or corrupting various parts of the government, most notably the judiciary. Yet, many public figures in Colombia have shown extraordinary courage in standing up to the cartels. Many have paid with their lives.

I have some personal knowledge of what I am writing about. Having been a DEA agent, I occasionally had the chance to work with Colombian police on individual cases, not extensively, but I was able to form friendships among some of them. In addition, I participated in a DEA training seminar for Colombian law enforcement in 1995 in Bogota. I am a strong supporter of US assistance to that country in fighting the drug traffic. I feel that they deserve our support. Moreover, now the country has a president (President Alvaro Uribe) who has been most courageous in fighting the traffickers. Recently, President Uribe visited the US, where he was snubbed by Democratic lawmakers due to his alleged past associations with right-wing death squads, a charge he has denied.

As law enforcement agencies, both in Colombia and the US, gradually achieved successes against the cartels, much of the lucrative drug trade has fallen to the nation’s main insurgency group, the FARC (Armed Revolutionary Force of Colombia), a Marxist rebel group that has, for decades, fought a war against the Colombian government. Aside from drug trafficking, the group engages in kidnappings and assassinations in furtherance of its goals.

Which leads me to my point. As Colombia, which is a democratic nation, fights valiantly to overcome the terror and violence plaguing its people, what does its neighbor in Venezuela, under Chavez, do? Mr Chavez is allowing FARC to set up sanctuaries on the Venezuelan side of the border with Colombia. In other words, Chavez has established an alliance with an organization that not only traffics in drugs, kidnaps and murders innocents, but also is attempting to overthrow the Colombian government and establish a Marxist government in that country.

None of this, of course, bothers the likes of Sheehan, Kennedy, Belafonte, Glover and Penn, all of whom adore Chavez. Anybody who is an enemy of George Bush is their friend, even if he is an enemy of the United States, even if he supports a murderous group like FARC.

The next time you see photos of these characters cavorting with Chavez, even if you don’t like Bush or US policies, think about the damage Chavez is doing to his neighbor, Colombia. Sheehan is going to run for public office in 2008. Kennedy promotes Venezuela’s oil company, Citgo. People like Penn and Glover would like you to buy tickets to see their movies. Maybe Belafonte would like you to dust off and play one of his old "Banana Boat" songs. I don’t know about you, but I will remember.

gary fouse

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