Opinion, by Michael Royster

What are we to do with the FARC?  The US and the EU have classified them as a “terrorist” organization that deals in drugs.  On the other hand, Venezuela’s President Chavez has said they are “Bolivarian” and have a political program. More to the point, they seem to have engendered a farce in two acts, both marginally involving Lula.

The Curmudgeon, aka Michael Royster.
The Vice Presidential candidate on the ticket with José Serra has recently publicly accused Serra’s opponent in the Brazilian presidential race, Dilma Roussef, or at least her party (PT), of supporting FARC and the drug trafficking it engages in.  Outraged, Dilma and company have filed lawsuits and generally created a media circus.  Serra has tried to keep an above-the-fray distance by saying that everybody knows PT support FARC, but that doesn’t mean PT support the drug dealing everybody knows FARC engage in.

Serra may have a point—there is a wing of PT that regards FARC as Bolivarian and hence a legitimate political force fighting for freedom from tyranny. In any event, Dilma (Lula’s protégé and/or place holder for the 2014 election) has admitted Serra is a gentleman.  Niceties abound, except when anybody mentions “Serra Palin” and guffaws break out all over. Lula has been kept largely under wraps so as to maintain his statesmanlike pose until we arrive at Act II.

Colombia’s lame duck President Uribe, to be replaced August 7 by Juan Manuel Santos, his democratically elected successor, chose a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Ecuador in which to present a dossier that “proves” that Venezuela is giving aid, comfort and succor to the FARC just across the border from Colombia. Chavez, mightily miffed, has recalled his country’s Ambassador and has accused Colombia of fabricating an excuse for attacking Venezuela, using the conveniently located American bases not far from the Bolivarian border.

Venezuela’s government first denied everything, saying the pictures could have been taken anywhere, then backtracked a little, admitting that the border with Colombia is pretty porous and that, yes, it’s possible some FARC have wandered into Venezuela, but that, far from supporting them, Venezuela tries to locate them and drive them back into Colombia, unfortunately without success.

The latter version almost makes sense. When Chavez says someone is “Bolivarian”, he means he is outspokenly against political and economic subservience to the USA. Cuba’s Fidel Castro is “Bolivarian”, as is Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. Polity dictates that no true Bolivarian should upset Bolivarian brethren by trying to round up their soldiers, even if they strayed into your territory. Venezuela may not support the FARC, but it will never seriously try to toss the FARC out, just as Ecuador never did.

Bolivarian Rafael Correa is now the Chair of UNASUR, the neophyte Union of South American Nations, which is pretty much like OAS without Uncle Sam. The Bolivarian solution to the crisis is to withdraw the matter from consideration by OAS and call an extraordinary summit meeting of UNASUR.  Predictably, Lula will attend, and present a proposal that he be allowed to mediate the dispute, in the spirit of hemispherical solidarity and … you fill in the rest.

What’s the farce, you ask? Colombian Santos has already publicly said he wants to mend fences with Chavez, and Chavez has already publicly said that Santos is not such a bad guy at all.  So, why does Chavez engage in all this posturing about recalling ambassadors and shutting down borders and not exporting oil to the USA? And why on earth have a summit when everybody in the world knows that the Venezuelan and Colombian military are NEVER going to battle each other over the FARC? Good question, but only a Bolivarian could give you an answer, and (as you have by now guessed) the Curmudgeon may be many things, but Bolivarian he is not.


  1. Pretty much everybody is talking to the FARC when they need to. It is more a question of whether the FARC can deal with its transgenerational transition among its leadership and get to the next level beyond being a militarized enclave(s). This is what Pancho Villa could never do in Mexico and simplistic but real reason why he just got a side door at the Monument of the Revolution and all the mediocre jokers who got the big doors never got the job done. There are a lot of big enclaves around the world and the main function they provide is to drive defense driven growth which takes money away from social programs and momentum away from social justice. Maybe its time for a FARC movie, lighten up the message.


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