Sunday's invasion of Ecuador and subsequent murder of 18 members of the FARC, including the organization's chief spokesman and negotiator, Raúl Reyes, signals a dramatic escalation of the decades-long conflict by the far-right narco-regime of Colombian president Álvaro Uribe.
Based on allegations published Monday in the Bogotá daily El Tiempo, a right-wing scandal sheet which has long-standing ties to the Santos family, the vice president claimed that two computers "found" with the assassinated Reyes indicated FARC was "apparently negotiating" to acquire radioactive material, "the primary basis for generating dirty weapons of mass destruction and terrorism."
Who FARC leaders were allegedly "negotiating" with was not specified.
These spurious charges follow allegations in today's New York Times, also citing the El Tiempo report and additional claims made during a Monday press conference by Colombia's police chief, General Oscar Naranjo that the FARC "appeared interested in acquiring 110 pounds of uranium."
No proof beyond "photographs and documents [Naranjo] said were taken from Mr. Reyes's computer" were offered to back the dubious Colombian claims echoed by the New York Times.
Naranjo also alleged that FARC has been given "$300 million dollars" by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to continue the insurgency.
During the March 1 invasion of Ecuador by Colombian military forces, the New York-based Weekly News Update on the Americas reports,
Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa said his country's soldiers later found the ... FARC members' bodies "in underwear, pajamas." They were "massacred while they slept," according to Correa. The Ecuadoran soldiers also rescued three wounded guerrilleros.
The Ecuador invasion by Colombia markedly increased tensions with both Ecuador and Venezuela. Citing evidence that the guerrillas were in fact asleep and not killed during a "hot pursuit" across the Ecuadoran border as alleged by the Colombian government, Correa said Uribe "was deceived, or yet another time he has lied to the Ecuadoran government." ("Colombia: FARC Negotiator Killed," Issue #937, March 2, 2008)
While Ecuador has recalled its ambassador from Bogotá and increased its military capacity in the area, Venezuela has broken diplomatic relations with the Uribe regime and massed thousands of troops along the Colombian-Venezuelan border.
Chris Carlson reports that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez charged that,
"The Colombian government has turned into the Israel of Latin America."
"Colombia is a terrorist state that is subject to the great terrorist, the government of the United States and their apparatus," he explained.
"Move ten battalions to the border with Colombian immediately," he said to his defense minister. "We don't want war, but we are not going to allow the North American empire, which is their master, and their puppy-dog President Uribe and the Colombian oligarchy to come divide us, to weaken us. We are not going to allow it." ("Chavez: 'Colombia is the Israel of Latin America,'" Venezuela Analysis, Monday, March 3, 2008)
Taking a page from Bush administration disinformation specialists, it is clear that as Uribe's narco-government grows increasingly isolated, it has decided to manufacture its own "dodgy dossier" as justification for its deadly incursion into Ecuador. Substituting "110 pounds of uranium," for "yellowcake from Niger," the Bush administration is clearly maneuvering to tie FARC to "weapons of mass destruction" with Chavez playing the role of Latin America's "Saddam Hussein," thus setting the stage for a potential U.S. attack.
According to analysts James J. Brittain and R. James Sacouman, the assassinations took place just days before a major international demonstration was scheduled to take place in Bogotá. They report,
Promoted by The National Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes (MOVICE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and countless social justice-based organizations, March 6 has been set as an international day of protest against those tortured, murdered and disappeared by the Colombian state, their allies within the paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) and the newly-reformed Black Eagles. Recently, President Uribe's top political adviser, José Obdulio Gaviria, proclaimed that the protest and protesters should be criminalized. In addition, paramilitaries in the southwestern department of Nariño--not far from where the illegal incursions were carried out in Ecuador--have threatened to attack any organization or person associated with the protest activities.
It is believed that the Uribe and Santos administration is utilizing the slaughter of Commander Raúl Reyes and others as a method to deter activists and socially conscious peoples within and outside Colombia from participating in the March 6 events. Numerous state-controlled or connected media outlets, such as El Tiempo...have been parading photographs of the bullet-ridden and mutilated corpse of Raúl Reyes throughout the country's communications mediums. Such propaganda is clearly a tool to psychologically intimidate those preparing to demonstrate against the atrocities perpetrated by the state over the past seven years. ("Uribe's Colombia is Destabilizing Latin America," Colombia Journal, Monday, March 3, 2008)
Far from being the "terrorists" the Bush regime and their Colombian acolytes claim them to be, the FARC have a 40+ year history as a major revolutionary force in Colombian politics. Originally launched by the Colombian Communist Party and other left-wing currents during the 1960s in response to massive state repression, the FARC have managed to thrive, controlling huge swathes of territory. Not coincidentally, the organization's genesis coincided with another period of intense U.S. intervention in Colombian affairs when the "paramilitary option" and the state's alliance with far-right, politically-reliable narcotrafficking mafias was promoted by Pentagon counterinsurgency "specialists."
According to analyst Richard Gott,
After a ceasefire in 1984, the FARC was encouraged to establish a legal political party, the Patriotic Union, and to put forward candidates in the elections in 1985. The Patriotic Union was reasonably successful, securing six senators, 23 deputies, and several hundred local councillors. But the outcome was disastrous. After emerging into the open and putting their heads above the parapet, many of the UP supporters were singled out and killed. More than 4,000 left-wing activists and organisers were assassinated in the year after the elections. The guerrillas retired to their safe territories in the rural areas, and vowed not to make the same mistake again. Further negotiations took place between 1999 and 2002, but the government negotiators could not overcome this legacy of mistrust on the part of the FARC. When Uribe became president in 2002, he abandoned all such efforts and embarked on seeking an entirely military solution. ("Uribe's Illegal Cross-Border Raid: Colombian Deaths in Ecuador, CounterPunch, Monday, March 3, 2008)
Bush intensified the belligerent rhetoric as well as ratcheting up the threat level against the Colombian people -- and Venezuela. According to Reuters,
President George W. Bush backed Colombia on Tuesday in an escalating Andean crisis as Venezuela moved troops to its border and Colombia accused President Hugo Chavez of genocide for supporting rebels.
Bush weighed in on the crisis for the first time since Saturday's raid into Ecuador. While most Latin American governments condemned Colombia, he criticized Chavez's "regime" for "provocative maneuvers" and said the superpower opposed any act of aggression that could destabilize the region.
"Our country's message to President (Alvaro) Uribe and the people of Colombia is that we stand with our democratic ally," Bush said.
As Washington and Bogotá escalate regional tensions, a black propaganda media operation is clearly underway. By linking FARC--and by inference, the Venezuelan government--to an alleged pursuit of "weapons of mass destruction," the Bush/Uribe gang may very well be preparing their own "final solution" to the "Chavez problem."