March 08, 2004

Venezuela: The Next Cuba

Paul Crespo on Hugo Chavez and socialism in Venezuela:

There is no doubt that Chavez - with Fidel Castro's help -- is creating a Cuban-style socialist state in Venezuela. Scholar Maxwell Cameron calls it the world's first "slow-motion constitutional coup." In the process, Chavez also is breathing new life into Fidel Castro's dying and decrepit dictatorship. But what's even more worrisome is the fact that the mercurial Chavez is turning the large, oil rich country into a base for international terrorism.

(...)

Most prominent in Venezuela's list of friendly terror groups are the communist FARC guerillas (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) who have terrorized Colombia for over 30 years and have killed thousands of people. Gen. Gary Speer, former acting chief of America's Southern Command, said during a Senate Armed Services committee hearing in March 2002 that "we are very concerned about President Chavez ... the FARC operates at will across the border into Venezuela."

"There are arms shipments originating in Venezuela that get to the FARC and the ELN [National Liberation Army]," he added. "We have been unable to firmly establish a link to the Chavez government, but it certainly causes us suspicions. The company that Chavez keeps around the world, although under the guise of OPEC, certainly causes additional concerns as well." The US News piece details the exact location of FARC camps inside Venezuela where Venezuelan military advisors reportedly train FARC guerillas.

Sadly, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry stated in a February speech in Boston that the murderous FARC guerillas had "legitimate complaints" despite the fact that they have the support of less than three percent of Colombia's citizenry.