As hard as President Hugo Chavez’ deportation to Columbia of Joaquin Perez Becerra is for those of us with revolutionary beliefs to swallow, there are factors involved that might make it easier to understand.
As has been reported here and elsewhere, there has been a thaw in Venezuela-Columbia relations since Columbia’s new president, Juan Manuel Santos, took office last year. Santos has demonstrated a willingness to work with Chavez instead of against him, as his successor, Alvaro Uribe had always done.
Chavez and Santos have reached agreements on various issues. Trade between the two countries has increased significantly(c). Venezuela is selling more oil to Columbia. The two leaders have managed to develop a relationship of sorts after years of antagonism between Chavez and Uribe, and as we have seen in the case of Libya and Iran, Chavez values these personal relationships and often acts accordingly.
The improved relationship between Venezuela and Columbia, and between Chavez and Santos, has been apparent on several occasions recently where in the past Columbia would have done the the Yankees’ bidding. One was when Santos deported Venezuelan narcotics trafficker Walid Makled(a) to Venezuela, instead of to the United States, which was pressuring Columbia to turn Makled over to them and not to Venezuela. He was wanted in the US on lesser charges, but it is thought that the US, as it has done in the past, planned to put Makled on the witness stand during a show trial and have him utter a lot of quotable slanders against Chavez prior to the upcoming Venezuelan elections, slanders the mainstream media would happily disseminate the world over(b).
Improved Columbia-Venezuela also worked to the detriment of the Yankee propaganda war against Chavez when Santos announced recently that he believed Venezuela was no longer harboring FARC rebels. The US has long accused Venezuela of aiding the FARC and harboring FARC rebels, and prior to Santos announcement, Columbia always echoed those accusations.
The US, by far, poses the greatest threat of any to Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution. The US has already facilitated a coup against Chavez, in 2002, and since then has never let up in its efforts to destabilize the Chavez regime and destroy the Bolivarian Revolution. The US threat comes in various forms: political, economic, militarily. Recall that one of Uribe’s last acts of subservience to the US was to allow the stationing of US military personnel at five Colombian bases. They purportedly were to help in the “drug war,” but as everyone knew, and as has been verified since by leaks, they were there because Chavez, and Socialism, are thriving in Venezuela, and because the last thing the Yankee powers that be want is another successful example of Socialism in their “back yard.”
As the US has seen one Latin American nation after another reject Neoliberalism, which is the central element of the current form Yankee Imperialism takes, Columbia was the only reliable ally the US had left in the region, and now even that appears to be changing. Chavez, besides knowing the advantages of throwing off the Yankee yoke, may see Venezuela’s improved relations with Columbia, and in that context, the deportation of Becerra, as part of a strategy to further isolate the US in the region. He may be calculating that he can integrate Columbia into his sphere of influence, or if not, at least into the new sphere of a Latin America that is increasingly independent of and less subservient to the US.
As we have already seen in the Makled case, closer ties with Columbia, if nothing else, at least serve to neutralize Columbia in terms the Yankee war against him. The decision to deport Becerra may or may not have been a difficult one for Chavez to make, but he may see it, in the long run, as part of a strategy to guarantee his survival, and the survival of the Bolivarian Revolution.