Uribe’s “Emmanuel” hypothesis Cutting Colombia aid to benefit Central America
Jan 042008

The DNA says that the baby is indeed “Emmanuel.” Can we now focus on getting Clara and Consuelo freed, as originally promised?

With most of Latin America’s newsmakers on vacation this week, there is not much else to link to.

  • Bolivia inaugurated a new high military command. The ceremony at least gave the appearance that President Evo Morales enjoys the armed forces’ enthusiastic support.

The outgoing armed-forces chief, Gen. Wilfredo Vargas, said that the military “feels very proud to have had this gratifying opportunity to participate in the transcendental change measures of the government of President Evo Morales,” adding that “the philosophy of the armed forces requires the military institution to be always alert to dissuade, persuade or – if necessary – to repress or annihilate all of the fatherland’s enemies.”

  • Peru’s new defense minister, Antero Flores-Araoz, said that Peru shouldn’t worry about its neighbors’ military purchases, particularly a recent Chilean outlay for a satellite territorial-surveillance system. Peru, he said, should focus on getting its own weapons.
  • Colombia’s National University cites a study claiming that in 2005, 58 percent of rural Colombian households (35 percent urban) had at least one member who goes to bed at night without having eaten.
  • Venezuela registered a rather high inflation rate in 2007: 22.5 percent. Colombia’s 5.7 percent was also higher than expected.

41 Responses to “Friday Links”

  1. LFM Says:

    Call me naive but I don’t see the momentous implications everybody seems to be seeing in all this disgraceful episode. So the FARC bungled the operation big time because they had one hostage unaccounted for. Well, yes, it’s a pretty spread-out (possibly spread-thin) organization in a inhospitable territory. Does this mean that the FARC were “lying” and are hence not a partner for peace talks, as some people argue? Well, those people already believed this and their views have nothing to do with the facts. It is likely that the FARC were not intentionally lying, but simply uninformed about their own activities. That has happened in the past to the Colombian government as well. Remember that time when the Police and the Army got into a still-obscure shoot-out? In fact, it happens all the time, especially in wars, especially in forsaken areas, especially in underdeveloped countries. What if after the Guaitarilla shoot-out the FARC would have said that the government is not a serious partner for peace talks? Many people in today’s chorus would have been screaming bloody murder.

    So, what to make of this screw-up? Nothing or, better, exactly what you thought should have been done before you knew about it. If you were against the hostage talks, then you can say, as many are, that this proves that it was a terrible idea. If you were in favor of the talks, then you will conclude that this should have no implication whatsoever. The kid is alive (what a relief!) so what’s stopping the liberation? It’s a Rorschach test. Each one sees there what he or she wants. Camilla, for instance, wants to see a brave President speaking truth to… well, no, not to power, you get the point, and hence saving the day for all the international mediators. The anti-chavistas in all the hemisphere want to see Chavez getting a bloody nose. I don’t see a logical connection between the facts and these conclusions. The mediators were in an unpleasant place, granted. But, hey, this is the life of three, now two, people we’re talking about. If you can’t wait a few more days of mosquito bites for that purpose, you don’t deserve to be called a mediator in the first place. So I don’t see what exactly was the favor Uribe did them. Same with Chavez. He sure must be annoyed at the FARC. But there’s no logical reason to stop the liberation of the other two hostages and he can still claim the diplomatic victory everybody says he’s seeking. Some commentator in this webpage concluded that there is no Latin American left. Well, who knew that one child could, simply by not dying, put to rest an entire movement in a whole continent?

    For what it’s worth, this is what I think: this is the biggest non-story of the year so far. 1. The FARC gave a major display of incompetence. Shocking? Don’t forget that these are the same people that began fighting around the same time as Castro and still have to gain any single significant military or political victory. Apparently, competence is not their thing. 2. Uribe is trying to make political hay out of this. Of course he would; that’s what politicians do. But it’s showing again that he enjoys any rapprochement with the FARC, no matter how minimal, as much as cod liver. At the slightest chance, at the slightest glitch, he takes his bullhorn to scream to the entire world that there’s no way to deal with the FARC. Nothing new here. 3. The kid is alive. Seems that everybody is very busy throwing virtual eggs to Chavez to rejoice in the fact that at least one hostage is closer than we thought to get out of such misery. 4. The liberation of the other two hostages should continue. Of course, every hostage should be freed. It is an infuriating disgrace that the FARC are keeping so many hostages. But let’s start small, at least go ahead with the liberation of two and the return of the third to a normal life. (Poor child, for goodness sake!)

    The Uribistas and anti-Chavistas should chill down. There are plenty of steps further down, and they will have time to hyperventilate throughout all of them. In the meantime, don’t try to score political points at the expense of the hopes of two Colombian families.

  2. Sergio Méndez Says:


    Good points and well taken

  3. jcg Says:

    An interesting comment, LFM…in the end, we are still waiting for the liberation of the other two, not to mention the rest of the hostages.

  4. Camilla Says:

    I think Clara is dead. Why else would these Marxist vermin seek to dump a baby, full of hostage value, off at Uribe’s social services agency? Toting a baby around in a jungle while running from the battle-hardened Colombian army is hard enough. If the mother is dead, there’s even less willingness to do it. Without the mother, it must have been stressful for guerrillas to be constantly dealing with the baby’s cries and feeding it and changing its diapers. I’m surprised they didn’t throw him in the river – but it’s possible the field guerrillas didn’t want to be that dehumanized and rebelled against such an idea no doubt coming from their ‘revolutionary’ masters.

  5. Camilla Says:

    Wait a minute – let me revise: It’s possible the baby was too much trouble to tote around in the jungle and the FARC unit stuck with that task decided to dump the kid off at social services and didn’t tell the brutal Marxist FARC leadership. They figured they could get the kid back if it was absolutely necessary, but in the meantime, Uribe’s bureaucrats could be changing its diapers and calming its cries, allowing them to carry on with their war and no one would be the wiser. It all seemed like a neat solution – until someone tipped off the already suspicious social services agency (what kind of kid rolls in with jungle diseases except a hostage kid?) and they didn’t let the kid go. Meanwhile, the FARC underlings never told the leadership. And by the time the FARC leadership found out, they’d already made the offer. And that would explain why the FARC leaders told that little FARC underling that he had to retrieve the baby or he’d be killed. To me, this scenario makes sense.

  6. LFM Says:

    I don’t see the point of speculating about what really happened from our armchairs with the little information we have. By the way, Camilla, you seem incensed that the FARC free-rode on the government’s social services all along. Would it have been better if the baby had spent really all this time in the jungle? I hope Clara is alive and, whether she is or not, the government should reconvene the guarantors for the liberation. If she’s dead, that’ll call the FARC’s bluff. If she’s alive, at least one more hostage will be home and that can’t be a bad thing.

    In terms of the bigger picture, nothing has changed. Uribe wants the hostages free, I assume. As much as I dislike the guy, I don’t think he’s such a monster. But he calculates that, in all likelihood, any advance in this front will put pressure toward peace talks and that he’s absolutely unwilling to do. The moment any hostage liberation turns into a window of opportunity for peace talks, he digs in his heels and starts playing Ariel Sharon to Marulanda’s Arafat, using any circumstance to claim that there is no partner for peace.

    By the way, let’s not forget that in the case of these three (now two) hostages, the FARC gets to call the shots because it is a unilateral concession. As disgusting as it is that these people are kidnapped, if the FARC pulls out of the liberation altogether, the worst case scenario, which I really hope doesn’t happen, the government will not be entitled to cry foul. It will, of course, but without reason. That’s the whole point of unilateral concessions. You give them if it suits you, if you withdraw them, the other part has nothing to complain about.

    I was going to comment on the use of the word “vermin” but rather not. Things are already complicated enough and I’m beginning to understand that such language comes with the whole “furibista” territory.

  7. eduardo avila Says:

    For what it is worth, the new head of the Armed Forces is from Santa Cruz.

  8. Kyle Says:

    LFM, you make some good points in your original piece. I agree that it is useless to speculate what happened with the child as it does not matter a whole lot. I am actually happy (in one sense) that the FARC were lying: a child has been freed and we did not even know it. He is out of the jungle which is great. I’m not so happy because I do not know what th e reaction of the government and international mediators will be. I agree that the worst thing would be to call off their liberations.
    On the other hand, while in reality it may not be anything shocking, it is big news. This, unfortunately, will probably cut off negotiations with the FARC for a long while, meaning only more war. So the big news is not that the kid is not in the jungle and the FARC lying, but the reactions of the Uribe administration to that news will be.

  9. Kyle Says:

    I should clarify a little. BAsed on what I have read in the last few days, mainly from El Espectador (who despite the big news has been focused on the liberation of Clara y Consuelo), I do think that the will be released. The FARC may look to continue to release some people or negotiate (their communiques on ANNCOL tend to point me to think this) but if Uribe is willing to do it or allow anyone is going to be the question. I think they are debating that in the Casa de Narino right now most likely (and the news of high inflation too), and I think if he allows it, he will be quite impatient with the process if little to no results appear. That is of course, if he allows it at all, refering to action for more than Consuelo and Clara. Of course, the international community will play a large role, and I would posit that (with reason or not) the international community has turned against the FARC a little; more or less, they are somewhat fed up. That does not mean, of course, that the international community will side with Uribe.

  10. Camilla Says:

    LFM: Speaking of speculating about things little-known about… you sure do a lot of it yourself. Of course I am incensed that the Marxist Narcoterrorists free-rode on the backs of the government they are trying to overthrow. But not because I think the baby belonged in the jungle. It’s because I believe the baby and the mother belong in freedom. That’s the difference between you and me: You think hostage-holding is an inevitable fact of life and only Uribe’s resignation and replacement by a leftist to your liking will change things. I think hostage-holding is 100% evil and needs to be ended. FARC should never be holding hostages and needs to be held up to every shame possible for it. It needs to release all hostages, especially mothers and toddlers. It needs to be shamed for all its cowardly behavior and wanting to have it both ways – kidnapping hostages, letting the families endure agony, and instead of TELLING the families, allowing them to suffer as they jack the world around with their false power, that false power of holding innocent human beings in inhuman conditions. This is intolerable. The FARC needs to be pounded, blown away and destroyed. It needs to know that someone bigger and more terrifying and forceful than them is coming after them. They are dirtbags.

  11. Camilla Says:

    clarification: instead of TELLING the famillies they parked the kid at social services where he can be picked up and start to live a somewhat normal life, it allows these families to suffer as they jack the world around…

  12. Camilla Says:

    Kyle: I am not so sure Uribe is going to want to keep negotiating. The conventional wisdom is that only leftist Hugo Chavez can win the trust of FARC. But in reality, they have betrayed him twice, this second time really making him look like a fool – and right in front of his friends.

    I think Uribe knows that Chavez can’t deliver the goods, and the whole thing is unpopular with the Colombian public, which knows FARC’s ways well.

    So many of the observers, previously billed ‘impartial,’ lost their reputations for impartiality by joining Hugo’s Jungle Clown Show in Villavicente and loudly hurling insults at President Uribe when the FARC let them down – they should have been blaming FARC or kept quiet. They too lost credibility by their effort to prop up Chavez. The only semiimpartial guy who came out fairly credible in this aftermath was Insulza who said the fault was FARC’s.

    Chavez now says he’s going to get the hostages back through secret means – probably more suitcases full of cash. I hope he tries this and gets caught. But just his very announcement of using clandestine means may pry open the door to the hostages’ release. Why do I say this? Because it gives Uribe a green light to use clandestine efforts in Venezuela – tit for tat. Since most of the hostages are probably being held in Venezuela, it means they can be located and found by Uribe’s men. That would probably mean they get freed, even if it’s not done in the concessionary and appeasing way that the ‘observers’ and now-discredited Chavista allies would like.

    Why, by the way, is there no international pressure on Chavez to clean out the seven FARC camps on Venezuelan territory as well as the ranches of his allies where many of the hostages are reportedly held. There ought to be a lot more world pressure on Chavez to do his part to put the FARC out of business. Instead, everyone just coddles Chavez and fantasizes that he’s an impartial observer instead of the collaborator he is.

  13. Kyle Says:

    Camilla, I have to agree with your first paragraph. In fact, I believe I said basically the same thing, if not stronger, about Uribe not wanting to negotiate.
    Second paragraph: I think Uribe THINKS Chavez cannot deliver the goods would be more proper. You are trying to predict the future and going against much evidence we have. Plus, it is not Chavez who is delivering the goods, but the FARC.
    Third paragraph: The only people who I read strongly condemning Colombia were Chavez and Stone. All the others did not lose nor gain. Most just went home, disappointed (I assume).
    Fourth: This might be the stupidest thing you have said on this forum. I almost do not know where to begin. You have no evidence for anything in this paragraph, jump to wild conclusions and seem to be just looking for ways to make Uribe look good instead of trying to find a solution.
    I will not waste my time critiquing such ridiculous stupidity.
    Fifth: Why is there not more international pressure? That is a good question. The information you lay out here is really unconfirmed and you through in the word “reportedly” as if someone had reported it. Outside of El Pais from Spain, who has little evidence to begin with and only said Ingrid was in Venezuela, there is no valid indication that the FARC are holding big name hostages in Venezuelan territory. Is it possible? Sure. Is it certain? In no way. I personally do not like Chavez nor his policies. And I also do not think he has as much sway, personally, with the FARC that many believe. Are the FARC willing to trust him though? Clearly. But now will he trust the FARC? Probably not so much. Right now may be the best time to exert some pressure to get Chavez to clamp down on the collusion going on in Venezuela between authorities there and the FARC. The collusion, IMHO, is not as strong and widespread as many believe. Last summer I asked some Venezuelan border officials on the border of Arauca City and Venezuela about the FARC. They said that the FARC do have men that live El Amparo, cross the border, carry out tasks (murders, extortion, etc) and then return to Venezuela. Also one of the Venezuelan guards had been killed by the FARC and there is a make-shift memorial there. The guard’s death had clearly angered those who I talked to. If the corruption is higher up and they are given orders, it is unclear how willing they are (and will be) to follow them.
    There is a lot of worry about the FARC in Venezuela, but due to the circumstances and recent events, the issue seems to have taken somewhat of a back-seat. Though it is a valid concern.

  14. Kyle Says:

    Haha, I hope I’m not the only one to notice my ironic, near oxy-moronic (perhaps without the “oxy-”) line in that post. It comes at a perfect time too. Whoops. I think/hope people know what I mean by the line, but seriously, it might be the stupidest thing I have said on this forum…

  15. Camilla Says:

    Kyle: Read the news more closely, and especially the Venezuelan press. Have you seen the reports that Rodriguez, chief of the chavista jungle mission, is believed to be holding the hostages at his ranch which borders Chavez’s dad’s ranch in Barinas state? He’s a thoroughly nasty and despicable character and goes back several administrations. he’s a crook.

    Re: The third paragraph – Nestor Kirchner went out blaming Uribe along with the other two bigger clowns you cited. check the quotes from Kirchner. He revealed himself to be the chavista he is – chavista by virtue of a cash-filled suitcase. A guy like that is not disinterested or objective, he has obligations.

    As far as your belittling my reports on hostages being held in venezuela, it’s more than likely that that;s the case – the vene press has reported it, i have been to ranches in venezuela where the locals tell me of farc personnel and activity there, only farc can defend against land invasions, by the way, the land invaders don’t mess with the farc like they do with law abiding venezuelans. I think you are deluding yourself that chavez is an upstanding global citizen who wouldn’t think of breaking the rules of national civility. But for your information, uribe’s men found farc’s ‘chancellor’ rodrigo granda right there in caracas prancing around as openly as he pleased with a venezuelan passport out there addressing a chavista conference. Don’t kid yourself that venezuela is not a farc-infested place. why do you think 80% of the drugs that make it to europe go through venezuelan first? You think it’s just dopers? if so you are wrong. farc has a high presence in venzuela.

    the most interesting aspect of it is the possibility that chavez may actually be afraid of farc and farc may be calling the shots. as the chavista government wallows farther and farther into incompetence and ruin and decay (because totalitarian cuban socialism does not work no matter how many times you try it) what we are looking at is the potential for a disintegrating state with destroyed civil institutions that will be an ideal roosting place for farc and a farc takeover. once you create a power void like chavez is doing, it’s only a matter of time before the farc moves in. it thrives in chaos and a failed states.

    The beauty of Uribe is in his revival of the state, something that is like bug spray against the farc. farc can’t thrive in a functioning state but it sure can in a nonfunctioning one. no wonder it loves hugo chavez, amiable sucker that he is.

  16. Jaime Bustos Says:

    I think that people here are shooting up pie and lucubrating without holding trustful information. The disinformation campaign emanating not only from Colombia but Venezuela, makes it impossible for anyone to have an accurate understanding of what is really going on.

    Camilo, one thing is for sure: Colombia continues to be the biggest cocaine exporter in the world regardless whether 80% of its cocaine production crosses Venezuelan territory.

    Kyle, the stupidest thing you’ve said might be yet to come.

  17. LFM Says:

    OK. This will be a rather lengthy post, sorry Adam, but hopefully the last one in a while. I’m not planning on spending precious time trying to change Camilla’s mind. I know it’s impossible. (Don’t feel compelled to answer, Camilla.) But I think it might be useful to clarify where I’m coming from in my comments, in the hopes that somebody ELSE will find it useful.

    Yes, I’m a leftist but that doesn’t make me a child-kidnapper. I think the FARC’s behavior is disgraceful and have said so each time I have the chance. I don’t think that Uribe’s resignation will solve every problem, but, hey, if it happened tomorrow, you wouldn’t see me crying. And sure, replacing him with a leftist of my liking would be dandy. Alas, I know that’s not going to happen and right now I can’t think of any leftist that I would like AND could head a stable government tomorrow. (Ask me again in 2010, though.)

    Here’s the deeper problem: I have no doubt that a military takeover of the FARC would be a catastrophe of historic proportions for Colombia that would set back the country several decades, if not more. If I thought that this was imminent, I would be right now denouncing Uribe as a sissy and calling for extreme measures, you know, a war economy, call of reserves, US aerial support with some ground troops for good measure, the works. But the likelihood of that happening has been very small for the past decades and will remain so for a long while, except for a couple of wild cards I’ll soon turn to. So, I don’t think it is responsible or ethical to put the country to the torch to avert such a prospect.

    Instead, I believe in bringing some elements of the FARC from the cold and then deal easier with the renegades and too criminalized to play any political role. This is not a new-fangled concept. It happens all the time in many civil wars, even in Colombia. That’s why I cringe at the use of words such as “vermin.” I don’t think that every single FARC militant is a soulless criminal.

    This is the key question I’d like to ask to Colombian hawks: are you so much enamored with the country’s current sociopolitical structure that you are not willing to change anything in it if it can spare us a few years of killing? Are you sure we have the perfect system of land-tenure, the perfect way of dealing with the agrarian periphery, the perfect way of exploiting our natural resources, that you would not change an iota of it for the sake of ending sooner the war? I don’t and this, Camilla, not my supposedly cavalier attitude toward child-kidnappings, is the main difference. I believe that Colombia is a flawed country (disclosure: I’m Colombian) and that chances are that if we deal with some of its flaws in a constructive way, offer a measure of inclusion to the peripheral peasantry and do all this with good political craftsmanship, we can bring the FARC along, at least a substantial part of it, to reduce the bloodshed.

    Sure, in Camilla’s fantasy-land, some day we will find the perfect super-smart bomb that will kill every FARC member (and only them) not before making them suffer horribly. (A quick death would be a letdown, wouldn’t it Camilla?) But that is unrealistic. Counterinsurgency wars are dirty by definition, and Colombia has shown that in spades. (Incidentally, interesting how Camilla never pounds the keyboard about the atrocities of the paramilitary.) The FARC can be defeated militarily. Let me go on record saying that. But at what cost? If the 90s are any evidence, whenever the FARC have been defeated on the ground, the cost has been an appalling human butchery at the hands of the paramilitary. (OK, I’ll grant a couple of exceptions, such as Cundinamarca where an overstretched FARC was kicked out by the Army without the nightmare of violence of other regions.)

    I promised something about the “wild cards” and here it is: is there something right now that may be increasing the likelihood of a FARC takeover? Probably. I can think of two things: Venezuela and a future self-inflicted regime meltdown in Colombia. A guerrilla cannot take power without either lots of external support, the political collapse of the incumbent government or a combination of both.

    I’m not going to talk about Chavez right now. But I don’t see him giving the FARC the kind of military support that it would take to topple the Colombian government. Camilla and others keep pointing at “evidence” of support. But holding hostages in a ranch isn’t going to cut it. We are talking about serious stuff: guns, tanks, grenades, etc. Hey we’ve seen what does it take to support a guerrilla. We’ve seen it with the Americans in Afghanistan, the Soviets in Manchuria, the Chinese in Viet Nam, the Pakistanis in, again, hapless Afghanistan and so on. Right now we’re light years away from that. Chavez knows that he cannot go the whole distance without risking a tremendous push back from Colombia and, more importantly, the US. So, as far as the eye can see, the FARC are not going to get all the hardware they need from Venezuela. They might get help (but I don’t want to get into that topic too much right now), but it’s not going to bring them over the military hump.

    The other wild card is regime collapse. It hasn’t happened and is very unlikely. How do I know? Because I recognize Uribe as the legitimate president of Colombia and if I do it means that everyone to my right does and that is an awful lot of Colombians, probably more than 95%. A huge economic crisis could change things somehow (Colombia’s economy has become very volatile recently) but I can’t imagine Colombia’s political system becoming as decrepit as, say, the Salvadoran one in the late 70s and early 80s. I think that Uribe is recklessly undermining Colombia’s institutions, and playing with the fire of war but I think we’ll be OK by 2010 and even after that.

    So, my two wild cards aren’t here yet and my initial assessment stands: the catastrophic scenario of a FARC takeover is a very remote one. Colombia doesn’t need Total War to deal with the FARC. Of course it can and Uribe is trying to. But is doesn’t need to. There is a smarter way: get a peace process started, offer serious reforms to benefit the peripheral peasantry, in the process defusing many of the economic time bombs the Uribe administration has planted (topic for another post), and deal politically with those parts of the FARC leadership that can be brought along. It won’t end all the violence, but it will spare us some.

    Is that rewarding child-kidnappers? Well, that’s the old justice-and-reconciliation thing. We’ll have to see how to keep that at a minimum. Right now it’s otiose to say how much impunity it will take. I’m afraid it will require some. But hey, my solutions, unlike Camilla’s are imperfect because they are designed for the real world which is imperfect. That said, it’s not like we have never, ever, granted impunity to anybody. Isn’t the whole Ralito merry-go-round based on impunity?

    I didn’t mean to hog all the website’s space and promise I’ll bite my tongue for a while so as to let the discussion thread flow. I just wanted to make clear the premises of my views, both intellectual and moral. I am appalled at the FARC’s behavior AND the paramilitary’s behavior. But a sense of moral indignation that doesn’t bother to consult the world around it, and calls for action without understanding the circumstances it inhabits ends up been irresponsible and, yes, immoral.

  18. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Camilo has met her match, at last: LFM , the avenger: :mrgreen:

  19. Camilla Says:

    LFM: It’s been awhile since you’ve lived in Colombia no matter what your passport says, that’s pretty obvious to me.

    First, although you modified your first paragraph later on down in the piece, you are in the tiniest of minorities in Colombia – the tiny group of intellectuals who hate President Uribe. Are you aware of the billboard on Avenida Septima put up by some citizen group cheering on President Uribe, telling him to not be discouraged by the calumnies of his enemies? That’s how beloved and popular this man is in Colombia – for you to casually talk about him resigning as if Colombia’s long tradition of democracy was something cheap indeed is exactly the problem with the Left. People like me accept a Democrat President in the US if that’s who the voters vote for, and people like me accept that Brazil can elect a leftist if it likes, even if I might not vote for the guy myself, but people like you cannot accept the huge legitimacy of President Uribe even though most Colombians 1. voted for him and 2. absolutely love him, consider him ‘an envoy from heaven.’ Can’t you accept that sometimes you don’t get your guy in office at times? You’ve got the leftist in the mayor’s offices in Bogota and Medellin, you can’t say the left has no voice in the country. In a democracy, power is shared but its balance is decided by honest competition, not gunfire, not leftwing lawyers, not intellectual elites thinking they know better than Colombian voters what’s good for them. You leftists had your chance with the Pastrana years, no matter what he said, he was all into appeasement, as were every other Colombian president in recent memory. Now it’s the turn of the long repressed rightwing, the people who say kidnapping is a crime, kidnapping is not a political statement, and punishing kidnapping is a matter of justice, not a matter of political persecution.

    I agree with you that Uribe is concentrating political power, but all popular leaders do that. He does have checks and balances – the captains of industry in Medellin discipline him pretty well, they tell him not to fight with Chavez and they tell him there ain’t gonna be no hecatombe, as he alluded to in October, so forget about a third term. He got the message and obeyed. The fact is this: democracy is valuable. The popular will should be respected. So drop your leftist dreams of trying to overturn him. The voters have spoken. Accept it. Everyone has to swallow political pills from time to time. Say something that is salable to the people, convince them you seriously care about kidnapping and don’t secretly romanticize the farc, and maybe your people will win sometime. Too much evil has happened to the colombian people for them to ever want to trust a farc-coddling leftist again.

    You see the farc as having some good guys and bad guys among them. I agree. The good guys HAVE disarmed, Uribe has put into place a program to rehabilitate farc guerrillas who no longer wish to practice terror and so long as they haven’t massacred a village or two, they get off scot free in exchange for disarming. Same deal for the paramilitaries and same deal for the M19 slimebuckets – who, following their record of peasant massacres and supreme court killings, now busily preach about human rights, those moral paragons /s. What I am saying is that there are avenues for the ‘good’ farc to get out. Farc knows all about these programs. The ones who stay stay because they want to. They are the hardest of the hardcore and they like nothing better than killing their fellow man in the name of the glorious ‘revolucion.’ Their very marxism makes them think they are exempt from the morals of ordinary mortals.
    There is no rehabbing this crowd. They are alqaida. The only way to deal with them is to make them realize that something bigger and more terrible is coming after them.

    Look, your method of appeasement has been tried and failed. Farc only got stronger with it. Now Colombians are trying something different – destroying terrorists, cutting off their cash, throwing their leadership in jail, bombing their camps and clearing the roads. Doing that has made the cities safe – what leftist has ever accomplished that? leftists think cops are always the bad guys and guerrillas are romantic fighters for ‘justices.’ Regular Colombians have had a bellyful of that and have decided that they like security better. Why can’t the left accept this and try to do better instead of the same old madness over and over and over again.

  20. Fandango Says:

    Let’s pull back from the “big picture” to get back to the smaller picture of Emmanuel and the non-release of Clara and Consuelo, as Adam suggested. Does the Emmanuel case add to our understanding of what the FARC was/is trying to accomplish with the offer to release the three? I offer a couple of hypotheses and would be interested to hear what readers on both sides of the ideological divide think:

    Hypothesis 1: The FARC planned to release all three of them and were attempting to get the boy back so they could do that. They were blunted in their efforts to get the boy, so in combination with security fears (legitimate or not) they called the whole thing off.

    Hypothesis 2: The FARC never intended to release them, but planned the whole thing as a smokescreen to pressure Uribe into agreeing to conditions – the DMZ in Florida and Pradera in particular – to which he has unflinchingly refused to agree. The strongest version of this hypothesis–but not unthinkable given the FARC’s history–is that they were trying to get the boy back so they could kill all three hostages and blame it on Colombian military operations, thereby “proving” their claims that a DMZ is needed for any kind of hostage release.

    The pessimist in me leans to the second, though I admit the evidence is ambiguous for the strongest version. FARC reaction to the positive ID is instructive – 1) they said they were keeping the boy out of the jungle for his safekeeping from military operations. 2) FARC also used the communique on the boy to re-state demands for a DMZ.

    Huh? So they were going to drag him back THROUGH the jungle for a half-baked rescue attempt, exposing him to all kinds of dangers? Had they any intent of releasing him, they could have just said “hey, guess what – here’s a gesture of goodwill – he’s across town from his family. Merry Christmas.” No DMZ needed, no danger.

    Others’ thoughts?

  21. Sergio Méndez Says:


    Well, let me ask you a question….if it is proven that most of the democratic party has ties with Al Qeada, and that most of the political barons accused of having ties with Al Qaeda, helped a democratic candidate to win the presidency, will you accept that president as legitimate? If that same president honorated and defended a CIA inteligence director that passed information to Al Qeada and at the same time celebrated a party honoring a US army general with ties with Al Qeada, that helped Al Qaeda to commit terrorists acts, will you accept that president? Change “Democratic president” with Uribe, electoral barons with colombian congressmen with ties with paramilitaries, CIA director with DAS director and “US army general” with Rito Alejo del Rio, and you will see why we reject Uribe….

  22. Kyle Says:

    Jamie, I’ve only seen you make a point once. One time you actually argue something. The rest of the time you confuse one-liners with debate.
    Camilla: Just because there are FARC personnel there does not mean there are hostages. Think: the people carrying the proofs of life came from Guaviare, which is nowhere near Venezuela. Could they have been moved? Maybe, but there’s no reason for it.
    Also, maybe you should try actually reading what people write. It’ll be helpful. I never said venezuela didn’t have a high number of FARC there; in fact, I said it does. I’m just saying that the specifics of your info or more speculative than you like to think. As for the hostages being in Venezuela, I have seen no convincing, actual evidence, even in the Venezuelan press, which I checked upon reading your post.
    Secondly, I never said Chavez was a good international citizen. In fact, I SAID I DO NOT LIKE HIM! Such incompetence combined with laziness should embarrass even the most basic politically intrigued person.
    Also, I speak for myself, but I do not look to appease the FARC and nor do I appease the FARC. I simply am fair and realistic. I want the hostages released and am trying to find a way towards that goal in my head. I’m not here to prop anyone up, appease anyone or say one side is better than the other all the time.
    Also Camilla, a billboard does not represent the vast majority of a country never. A pro-Uribe, an anti-Uribe, a middle ground. It just represents people who took the tim to scrape together some money and get a billboard. That is all it does and will ever represent. It would be if graffitti represented the majority of a country.
    LFM you do have some helpful points and I am pretty sure there are many here who agree with you (including myself for most of your points).
    I would like to add on that the goal with any insurgency is to get them into the poltical system so that they stop killing people. At minimum, the goal should be to get them to lay down their arms. The increasing field of transitional justice, something that Camilla probably hates (without realizing she should not), would work wonders in taking care of FARC leaders. I do not think they would see much poltical action themselves; some mid-levels, maybe; lowers, if they can muster support (I don’t think they can from Colombians, but that is not to say they will not try).
    P.S. – Pastrana was not a leftist. The definition of a leftist is not someone who tries to negotiate peace. I know Camilla that you will mis-interpret that, but it is true. Also, leftists do not necessarily dis-like democracy. I happen to think that liberal democracy (again, I am sure Camilla will mis-interpret that as well) is the best (or least worst) form of government right now. Just because I do not like Uribe does not mean I cannot accept he is president. He is and I would never say otherwise; nor would I say he should not be.
    Also, whether or not Colombia is a true liberal democracy is up for much debate.
    I no longer feel like going through and picking things apart for no real change at all. I know that last line should set Camilla off.

  23. Camilla Says:

    Pastrana was leftist compared to Uribe. He’s leftist to me. The point is this, Kyle – he believed in negotiating with hardened terrorists. I could have told him before he started, just as I can tell you, that it never works. Hardened terrorists have their own logic – that of victory, they have put everything into victory, their lives, their reputations, their humanity, their morals, their consciences, their human decency, their very souls – all of that has been thrown away for victory so to let go of the concept of victory is to say that all they have given up was for nothing. They can’t deal with that. That’s why they are implacable. That’s why the only thing that can put them out of their misery is something bigger and more powerful and more overwhelming than them that will destroy them – the Colombian army.

  24. Camilla Says:

    Sergio: Funny, my response was going to be that people get the government they deserve. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some Democrats were in bad with alqaida, but fortunately they are few and far between. We did have such a situation, though, with Clinton. He sold out our country’s secrets to the Red Chinese in exchange for campaign contributions and god knows how many other people, too. He pardoned Marc Rich for political cash, he let off tons of criminals who paid him off. In short, he did sell our country out to foreign powers. My response? He was what we wanted and what we deserved, so I accepted it. Since I didn’t like it, I did move abroad for a few years so as to not be exposed to news about him. I just couldn’t stand him. But I was never part of the impeach-or-resign crowd, that is the road to madness.

    Sergio – why do you consider the paramilitaries alqaida but not the FARC? Surely the FARC is the blood brother of alqaida in its messianic vision of the world and its willingness to perpetuate any atrocity, as well as control a big piece of global drug traffic. The paras are vile too, but they are reviled, discredited, out of business and in the can, as is right. They are a distant memory along with M19, both of whom got off way too easy. FARC is evil incarnate and can only be destroyed.

  25. Camilla Says:

    Let me add some more to that first part of the response: I see it as Americans’ duty to get word out about crime and corruption of candidates, their seamy backgrounds, their questionable alliances – this is part of the democratic process and a free press. Does Colombia have those? Yes. If the voters are informed and they still vote for a guy, then it’s the government they deserve. it baffles me that Hillary has such high poll numbers given her long history of foreign-money corruption. If voters don’t want to care about that, then they deserve what they get, the only thing that can be done is to get the news out there before the election time. Same deal with Lula in Brazil, he had a lot of scandals in his first term but voters saw more important things about him that they wanted and sure enough they reelected him. (I’m glad he hasn’t had many since!)

  26. jcg Says:

    LFM, this may read way too much like a “me-too” reply, because I’m not typing up a long answer (I also sometimes fear to do so, on this blog, because I don’t want to go too overboard, or because I’ve already typed up something long elsewhere), but I believe several of us do share some key ideas about Uribe and even FARC, for the most part.

    I just hope that whoever comes up next in 2010, preferably but likely not someone from the left, is open-minded enough to try something different, while remaining credible and reasonable enough to avoid the kind of vicious right-left polarization we’re seeing right now.

    I think that the lack of internal consensus (even Uribe’s popularity doesn’t override that) is preventing us from doing all that we need to do, among other things, both as far as fighting the war is concerned and, of course, trying to negotiate a real peace with FARC or the ELN.

  27. LFM Says:

    Camilla, when I said not to feel compelled to respond, I meant it. You didn’t have to, much less if it required actually reading what I said which you did not. Your bunch of distortions of my words is so long that I won’t bother to respond. Just one thing that may be good for your reflexes and inner peace: next time, when you hear someone declaring him- or herself a leftwinger, don’t immediately reach for your gun. It may be worth listening or reading for a few minutes. Not all of us are genocidal murderers and kidnappers.

    On another note, probably Uribe is adored by many Colombians as sent by the heavens. I’m old enough to know that little good comes out of such things. (By the way, my passport says that I’m Colombian and that I go there often and was there a few weeks ago.)

  28. Camilla Says:

    LFM: You wanted to have the last word, that’s why you made the preposterous demand that I not respond. Well, you can’t silence me, as you like, which is another desperate leftist impulse dating back to Stalin – the silencing of dissent, Hugo does it too. If you are gonna address me, you best expect a response. Don’t like it? Don’t address me. Simple. But don’t address me and then expect black tape over my mouth at your command. For the record, I distorted none of your words but you made silly blanket statements about mine, and clearly read none of them.

    Colombians love Uribe because he is responding to a need that has gone long ignored. Appeasement, appeasement, appeasement, concessions, talks, that’s all they’ve heard all their lives and all they’ve got from its was murder and war. (Naturally, their appeasement instincts evaporate when the subject of the paramilitaries comes up, don’t think I don’t notice that) Appeasement of murderous guerrillas who need justice has never led to anything good. You can’t negotiate with sworn killers, the best thing to do is exert higher force than they are exerting against you. As soon as the left realizes that, they will start to win elections in Colombia.

  29. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Obviously Camilo is a mock up caricature of the rightest wing Reactionary archetype. Obviously Camilo don’t make any sense at all. Obviously Camilo is a shill paid by colombian goverment propaganda budget. So why waste your thoughts in someone that is faking the whole bunch up. Get out of here .. :roll:

  30. Randy Paul Says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some Democrats were in bad with alqaida, but fortunately they are few and far between.

    Always wise to review your comments before you baselessly accuse the opposition party of treason simply because you don’t like them.

    As detestable as I find the current group of Republicans I would never accuse them of being traitors without proof, notwithstanding the Bush family’s longstanding friendship with the Saudi royal family.

    He pardoned Marc Rich for political cash, he let off tons of criminals who paid him off.

    I’m certainly no Clinton fan, but he never pardoned a terrorist. Bush 41 did: Orlando Bosch.

  31. Camilla Says:

    Tell me all about this propaganda budget, Miss Jamie! Is it big? Does it include foreigners? Does it involve Plan Colombia cash? Do tell!

    In a new development, El Tiempo reports that Fernando Araujo just came out and said there would be no more Hugo Chavez jungle spectacles, specifically because the people involved ‘know nothing about Colombia’ and because such people attacked the Colombian government and praised the guerrillas. It makes sense.

    Unless these people can restrain themselves and at least ‘pretend’ to show respect for their hosts, it’s clear that this isn’t about freeing hostages, any more than the FARC is about freeing hostages. It’s all the same thing, undermining the Colombian government, that’s the real mission and that’s what’s important to these people. Well, the Colombian government doesn’t have to take it. I applaud Araujo.

    The two things Araujo said were clear references to Oliver Stone, who proudly said he stepped right off the plane, hopped over to the local hotel bar, and ‘hung out’ with drug traffickers and murderers, like that’s something you easily do there and everyone who’s ‘hip’ does it – and all I can think is yeahhh, betcha did, Ol.’ And of course Stone went out classlessly insulting not just Uribe but all Colombia, which includes most voters who elected him. That guy made me ashamed to be an American. I hope they halt his Escobar movie project, make him film it in some other country. Nobody has to take that from an ignorant clown like Stone.

  32. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Hey mofo don’t play fool with me man, I can smell a rat a mile away.

  33. Camilla Says:

    I ain’t a man, Miss Jaime. Happy Year Of The Rat to you.

    Randy Paul: I am not interested in talking US politics with you. But your bringing up of Bosch calls to mind Chile and from there, we have the textbook case of what Sergio was asking about – what if a foreign leader is in cahoots with his nation’s enemies.

    In Chile, Salvador Allende was recently revealed to have been a paid agent of the Soviet regime and never bothered to tell the Chilean people. It came out in the last couple years from KGB archives. The fact that is was secret does amount to a violation of democracy because nobody should secretly be in the pay of a totalitarian regime and pretending to be an honest Chilean or whatever. In fact, no head of state should be secretly take little envelopes of cash of any foreign regime. I have always criticized the Venezuelan opposition for complaining that Chavez was a coupmonger, but the fact is, he never concealed that fact when he got elected in 1998 and voters still voted for him so Venezuelans get the government they deserve. But Chileans had no way of knowing – that’s different.

    Which brings me to Sergio’s point about Uribe – was he in the pay of the paras? Thus far, nothing credible has come out of such allegations. But the paras were a complex group who never would have existed at all had the FARC not been conducting massacres, they were essentially reactionaries, not people who set out to kill others in the name of glorious ‘revolucion.’ Some were truly evil and others were just trying to defend themselves from Marxist killers. If you wanted to be alive in the days of appeasement, you usually had to have some friends in the paras because the government certainly wasn’t going to defend you if the Marxists intended kill you. If you were prominent, it was guaranteed that the Marxists wanted to kill you. So, I would not be totally surprised if Uribe knew some of those guys, the evidence is in the fact that he is alive. Should he prefer to be dead instead? To even ask that is outrageous. But somehow, Uribe does not seem to be coming up with ties to the paras and in any case, the critical free press would expose it if they could and somehow they have come up empty.

    By the way, Randy Paul, check your facts on Bosch – Wikipedia says Bosch was never pardoned by Bush Senior or anyone else.

  34. Sergio Méndez Says:


    Excuse me, but I find hard to believe that there is any comparison between the paranoic fantasies of right wingers about Bill Clinton, and the mostly proven things I said about Mr Uribe. And I am not saying this cause I have any love for Bill Clinton, I assure you.

    Concerning the FARC, yes they are terrorists. I just used the Al Qeada comparison, because the AUC are TERRORISTS too and is with THEM that Uribe is associated, not with the FARC. Anyways, I see you just did not answer my question nor tried to deny any of the things I said about Uribe and his links with paramilitaries….why do you pretend that we put the same blinders you were, if I may ask?

  35. Randy Paul Says:

    Randy Paul: I am not interested in talking US politics with you.

    Then don’t bring it up. Count on me to respond with the truth, not ad hominem poppycock. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    Bosch was given what amounts to a pardon. He is facing no risk of trial let alone jail time for his actions just as Luis Posada Carriles (who entered the country illegally) is not facing any such risks. Nor is Bosch facing any risk of deportation for this: In 1968 Bosch was arrested in Florida for an attack on a Polish freighter with a 57 mm recoilless rifle and was as a result sent to prison for a ten year term, while hundreds get deported as legal residents for minor drug possession charges.

    As for Allende, torture was not institutionalized and disappearances did not occur under his rule. They did under the man who overthrew him, as did an act of state-sponsored terrorism in our nation’s capital instituted by Pinochet’s secret police that resulted in the death of a political exile and a US citizen.

    Those facts which you elide as well as your failure to respond to Sergio merely tell me that terrorism is acceptable to you as long as you find the political goals acceptable. What a disgusting little hypocrite you are.

  36. Randy Paul Says:

    A little more to enlighten Camilla, vis a vis Orlando Bosch:

    According to the justice department in George Bush Sr’s administration, Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed.

    CIA memorandums strongly suggest, according to Bardach’s book, that Bosch was one of the conspirators, and quotes the then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, as writing that the “US government had been planning to suggest Bosch’s deportation before Cubana airlines crash took place for his suspected involvement in other terrorist acts and violation of his parole”.

    Bosch’s release, often referred to in the US media as a pardon, was the result of pressure brought by hardline Cubans in Miami, with Jeb Bush serving as their point man. Bosch now lives in Miami and remains unrepentant about his militant activities, according to Bardach.

    Whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, Bush 41 gave cover and protection to a terrorist. No wonder you don’t want to discuss US politics with me: you’re out of your league.

  37. galactus Says:

    Please stop feeding the trolls :) . Camilla is probably some polo democratico dude who comes here to make Uribe’s followers look bad.

  38. Randy Paul Says:


    and is doing a damned fine job at that.

  39. lfm Says:

    Hi All (well, almost All): For some reason I got an email with this article that mentions a couple of interesting facts.


    I feel rather queasy quoting it because the author, as much as her father was a great Colombian leader, is to my mind an authentic fruitcake. I rarely ever pay any attention to what she has to say. This time the article caught me off guard, probably because the whole situation is so bleak that we keep scrambling for any bit of good news, even if the source is insane. But then again, if you read this blog and its comment threads, you are already used to a good doses of mental insanity…

  40. jcg Says:

    lfm: I commented about that article elsewhere, so…

    FARC said they would free Emmanuel, but they were in no position to do so. He wasn’t even in their hands at that point, so they were speaking without really knowing what they were talking about.

    That may not be a lie, but that’s hardly acting in good faith. It’s a lie born out of ignorance rather than malice, if you want to put it that way. And they did not explain the reality in time. They had plenty of time to explain the details to Chávez, but they didn’t. That is not exactly a good thing either.

    Their 31st of December communique says that they were concerned about military operations, but they said nothing about Emmanuel. Honestly, if they hadn’t seen him for several years (only making brief and rare visits to the man who was originally in charge), they should have checked things out first before promising something they couldn’t deliver OR quickly try to correct themselves once they found out the truth.

    Everyone expected something else, or at least a clearer message from FARC, and that’s not what happened. You could say they were intentionally misleading, at the very least, even if they didn’t intend to lie per se.

    As for the military operation from the 19th of December, what does that have to do with anything? Apparently very little, at this point and according to what we know.

    The humanitarian operation to send the helicopters from Venezuela was authorized by Colombia on the 26th of December, the same day Chávez made it public. The rescue operation was not in progress at any earlier point as far as we know.

    Also, the name of the military operation says absolutely nothing about which of the dozens of guerrilla units were involved or, as things turned out, about where Emmanuel (who was in Bogotá) or the other hostages were truly located at that point in time.

    Perhaps the military thought that Emmanuel was there, but the fact is that he wasn’t. Where the other hostages in that specific area and with that specific guerrilla unit? Nobody here knows, including Gloria Gaitán, but at least one of them wasn’t.

    Basically, considering that Chávez hadn’t even made the rescue plan public yet at the time of that military operation, the link is a very weak one at this point.

  41. Tambopaxi Says:

    …NYTimes just came out (10 January,11h30, EDT) with short AP flash saying that Chavez has announced the release of Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzales. According to Chavez, the two will fly to Venezuela this afternoon…..

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