Do you believe this?
This past weekend, Colombia invaded Ecuador, killed a guerrilla
chief in the jungle, opened his laptop – and what did the Colombians
find? A message to Hugo Chavez that he’s sent the FARC guerrillas $300
million – which they’re using to obtain uranium to make a dirty bomb!
That’s what George Bush tells us. And he got that from his buddy, the strange right-wing President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe.
So: After the fact, Colombia justifies its attempt to provoke a
border war as a to stop the threat of WMDs! Uh, where have we heard
The US press snorted up this line about Chavez’ $300 million to
“terrorists” quicker than the young Bush inhaling Colombia’s powdered
What the US press did not do is look at the evidence, the email in
the magic laptop. (Presumably, the FARC leader’s last words were,
“Listen, my password is ….”)
I read them. While you can read it all in español, here is, in
translation, the one and only mention of the alleged $300 million from
Chavez is this:
“… With relation to the 300, which from now on we will call
“dossier,” efforts are now going forward at the instructions of the
boss to the cojo [slang term for ‘cripple’], which I will explain in a
separate note. Let’s call the boss Ángel, and the cripple Ernesto.”
Got that? Where is Hugo? Where’s 300 million? And 300 what? Indeed,
in context, the note is all about the hostage exchange with the FARC
that Chavez was working on at the time (December 23, 2007) at the
request of the Colombian government.
Indeed, the entire remainder of the email is all about the mechanism of the hostage exchange. Here’s the next line:
“To receive the three freed ones, Chavez proposes three options:
Plan A. Do it to via of a ‘humanitarian caravan’; one that will involve
Venezuela, France, the Vatican[?], Switzerland, European Union,
democrats [civil society], Argentina, Red Cross, etc.”
As to the 300, I must note that the FARC’s previous prisoner
exchange involved 300 prisoners. Is that what the ‘300’ refers to?
¿Quien sabe? Unlike Uribe, Bush and the US press, I won’t guess or make
up a phastasmogoric story about Chavez spending money he doesn’t even
To bolster their case, the Colombians claim, with no evidence
whatsoever, that the mysterious “Angel” is the code name for Chavez.
But in the memo, Chavez goes by the code name … Chavez.
Well, so what? This is what.
Colombia’s invasion into Ecuador is a rank violation of
international law, condemned by every single Latin member of the
Organization of American States. And George Bush just loved it. He
called Uribe to back Colombia, against, “the continuing assault by
narco-terrorists as well as the provocative maneuvers by the regime in
Well, our President may have gotten the facts ass-backward, but he
Bush knows what he’s doing: shoring up his last, faltering ally in
South America, Uribe, a desperate man in deep political trouble.
Uribe’s claims he is going to bring charges against Chavez before
the International Criminal Court. If Uribe goes there in person, I
suggest he take a toothbrush: it was just discovered that right-wing
death squads held murder-planning sessions at Uribe’s ranch. Uribe’s
associates have been called before the nation’s Supreme Court and may
In other words, it’s a good time for a desperate Uribe to use that
old politico’s wheeze, the threat of war, to drown out accusations of
his own criminality. Furthermore, Uribe’s attack literally killed
negotiations with FARC by killing FARC’s negotiator, Raul Reyes. Reyes
was in talks with both Ecuador and Chavez about another prisoner
exchange. Uribe authorized the negotiations, however, he knew, should
those talks have succeeded in obtaining the release of those kidnapped
by the FARC, credit would have been heaped on Ecuador and Chavez, and
discredit heaped on Uribe.
Luckily for a hemisphere the verge of flames, the President of
Ecuador, Raphael Correa, is one of the most level-headed, thoughtful
men I’ve ever encountered.
Correa is now flying from Quito to Brazilia to Caracas to keep the
region from blowing sky high. While moving troops to his border – no
chief of state can permit foreign tanks on their sovereign soil –
Correa also refuses sanctuary to the FARC . Indeed, Ecuador has routed
out 47 FARC bases, a better track record than Colombia’s own, corrupt
For his cool, peaceable handling of the crisis, I will forgive
Correa for apologizing for his calling Bush, “a dimwitted President who
has done great damage to his country and the world.”
Amateur Hour in Blue
We can trust Correa to keep the peace South of the Border. But can we trust our Presidents-to-be?
The current man in the Oval Office, George Bush, simply can’t help
himself: an outlaw invasion by a right-wing death-squad promoter is
just fine with him.
But guess who couldn’t wait to parrot the Bush line? Hillary
Clinton, still explaining that her vote to invade Iraq was not a vote
to invade Iraq, issued a statement nearly identical to Bush’s, blessing
the invasion of Ecuador as Colombia’s “right to defend itself.” And she
added, “Hugo Chávez must stop these provoking actions.” Huh?
I assumed that Obama wouldn’t jump on this landmine – especially
after he was blasted as a foreign policy amateur for suggesting he
would invade across Pakistan’s border to hunt terrorists.
It’s embarrassing that Barack repeated Hillary’s line nearly
verbatim, announcing, “the Colombian government has every right to
(I’m sure Hillary’s position wasn’t influenced by the loan of a
campaign jet to her by Frank Giustra. Giustra has given over a hundred
million dollars to Bill Clinton projects. Last year, Bill introduced
Giustra to Colombia’s Uribe. On the spot, Giustra cut a lucrative deal
with Uribe for Colombian oil.)
Then there’s Mr. War Hero. John McCain weighed in with his own
idiocies, announcing that, “Hugo Chavez is establish[ing] a
dictatorship,” presumably because, unlike George Bush, Chavez counts
all the votes in Venezuelan elections.
But now our story gets tricky and icky.
The wise media critic Jeff Cohen told me to watch for the press
naming McCain as a foreign policy expert and labeling the Democrats as
amateurs. Sure enough, the New York Times, on the news pages Wednesday,
called McCain, “a national security pro.”
McCain is the “pro” who said the war in Iraq would cost nearly nothing in lives or treasury dollars.
But, on the Colombian invasion of Ecuador, McCain said, “I hope that
tensions will be relaxed, President Chavez will remove those troops
from the borders - as well as the Ecuadorians - and relations continue
to improve between the two.”
It’s not quite English, but it’s definitely not Bush. And weirdly,
it’s definitely not Obama and Clinton cheerleading Colombia’s war on
Democrats, are you listening? The only thing worse than the media
attacking Obama and Clinton as amateurs is the Democratic candidates’
frightening desire to prove them right.
Watch Greg Palast’s reports from Venezuela and Ecuador for BBC
Television Newsnight and Democracy Now! Compiled on the DVD, “The
Assassination of Hugo Chavez," pick it up at http://www.PalastInvestigativeFund.org