Brazil’s Legislators Shamelessly Mock Chavez’s Failed Rescue Effort

Brazilian legislators seem to have contracted to carry out some further good works on Washington’s behalf by attempting to block Venezuela’s prospects of being voted into the Mercosur trade pact.

Some legislative figures in Brasilia, who at times apparently
confuse their country with Honduras when it comes to a well-ripened
capacity for corruption and other banana republic antics, may have now
turned from selling their votes on pending legislation to more esoteric
political matters. This is because their venality has become a target
for public opprobrium from Brazilians in all walks of life. It was this
kind of behavior that appeared to originally inspire Hugo Chavez to
famously describe, in a perhaps impolitic manner, some members of
Brazil’s upper house as being Washington’s “parrots.” Now those
legislators seem to have contracted to carry out some further good
works on Washington’s behalf by attempting to block Venezuela’s
prospects of being voted into the Mercosur trade pact.

According to Latin News, several Brazilian brave hearts, such as
Senator Heráclito Fortes and Congressman Raul Jungmann, have belittled
Chavez’s humanitarian role after the latter had accepted Colombian
President Alvaro Uribe’s invitation to act as an intermediate in trying
to obtain the release of hostages held by the leftist Colombian
guerrillas, the FARC. Jungmann, who heads Brazilia’s lower house’s
Foreign Relation’s Committee, accused Chavez of “self promotion” and
asserted that the Venezuelan effort had no interest in saving “the
lives of the hostages,” while Fortes dismissed Chavez’s labors as
little better than another example of his “pyrotechnic” initiatives.
They did this by ridiculing the Venezuelan president’s sincerity and
well-intended bona fides in seeking an early release of the hostages.
If Chavez is guilty of anything, it was that he overestimated Uribe’s
personal stability and that before the Colombian leader had
preemptively dumped the Venezuela president, he had repeatedly
sabotaged the Venezuelan leader’s hostage release efforts.

Washington understandably has been anxious to score points against
the despised Hugo Chavez by depreciating what it saw as his offish role
in seeking to unsuccessfully gain the release of hostages caught up in
the bitter Colombian conflict. But the mystery remains what was in it
for Bogotá to play such a spoiler’s role– why did Uribe, by ridiculing
Chavez’s release efforts, do something which on the surface did so
little for Colombia as well as his own increasingly precarious domestic
political standing?

It was obvious that President Uribe, who certainly is no marplot,
was looking for a fight when he preemptively revoked Hugo Chávez’s
local credentials to potentially negotiate a hostage swap. If so, this
represented an abrupt change of styles. Soon after taking office in
2002, Uribe admirably had fought for autonomy from U.S. dominance in
order to maintain a constructive and engaged relationship with his
counterpart in neighboring Venezuela, and both leaders worked to
contain major crisis situations – be it the abduction of a high FARC
official from Caracas or an alleged Colombian-related plot to
assassinate Chavez – that could have severely poisoned their ties. No
matter how grating or provocative was the divisive incident, both sides
always have managed to draw back from the brink. This included such
incidents as the aforementioned abduction and later extradition to the
U.S. of the senior FARC official by some local bounty hunters in the
pay of Colombian intelligence agents, as well as efforts by the then
U.S. ambassador to Bogotá to try to pressure Uribe to seek a
confrontation vis-à-vis Venezuela over several bilateral issues.
Uribe’s original decision to work through Chavez on the hostage had
prospects of paying off because there was every reason to believe that
Chavez was close to achieving some success with FARC’s senior
leadership over the deeply troubling hostage issue which was costing
Uribe popularity plunges back in Bogotá.

While the poor taste of Jungmann and Fortes reflects their destined
meretricious foot-note role in the affair involving Venezuela, and
innocent political prisoners, their conduct also sadly provides
tangible proof of the banality of so many of Brazil’s elected public
figures and the great country’s widely noted lack of decisive
leadership on a national level.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Staff