CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER
March 18, 2008
The Rio Group somewhat resembles a school yard during recess. The kids insult each other, sometimes hit each other. Then the bell rings, the teacher arrives, stops the fight, tells them to shake hands, and they all return cheerfully to class.
Ibero-American summits are like that. The absence of protocol loosens Hugo Chávez's sharp tongue and hyperactive gestures. He rants, begins to sing, shouts, threatens, hugs, pinches the others. Some months ago, the king of Spain, an educated and sensible person, lost his patience and told him to shut up, but that didn't work. The colonel does not know silence. He panics at the very idea.
What the computers reveal
It happens, however, that the incident between Colombia and Ecuador cannot be settled with a handshake. If Interpol determines that the three computers found in the camp of Raúl Reyes, the FARC's second-in-command, are not a fabrication of the Colombian government of President Alvaro Uribe but really belonged to the narcoterrorist comandante killed by Colombian bombs, the International Crimes Court must take up the case, investigate the events in depth and punish the guilty.
The sentiment was expressed with total authority by Diego Arria, former U.N. Security Council president and an expert in these affairs: ``The fact that the president of Colombia . . . denounced the presidents of Venezuela and Ecuador as collaborators with the terrorists who are holding 700 people hostage cannot be overlooked, no matter how many handshakes or forced smiles.''
True enough. The documents found in Reyes' computer tell of funding the FARC's activities with Venezuelan money. No less than 300 million petrodollars.
Liaison with narcoguerrillas
They describe the complicity of the government of President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who assigned one of his principal ministers to be the liaison with the narcoguerrillas and offered to remove from the border any soldiers who interfered with the rebels' work.
The documents also mention Arab dealers, willing to sell missiles. And there are references to efforts to buy uranium, presumably to build ''dirty'' bombs capable of contaminating thousands of people with radioactivity.
We are, then, in the presence of an organization as lethal and sinister as al Qaeda, except that it is much older (40 years), better structured and more numerous. Its essential difference with Osama bin Laden's group is metaphysical in nature.
Al Qaeda is engaged in an anti-Semitic and anti-West religious crusade. The FARC is a communist organization, built within the strategic and political concept of the Cold War. It managed to survive after the disappearance of the Eastern bloc because drug trafficking and kidnapping furnish it with the resources it needs to remain viable.
Pact with radical elements
It is very important that we understand this fact, if we want to view reality through Chávez's eyes and interpret his behavior. The Venezuelan sees himself as the heir of the task and responsibilities that Moscow betrayed.
Chávez is convinced that the Caracas-Havana-Quito-La Paz axis is the seed of what someday will be a global power capable of destroying the rotten capitalist Western world. He dreams that he will have the honor of founding that glorious neocommunist era.
That is why he makes pacts (as Moscow did in its expansive phase) with the world's most radical elements, regardless of the ideology that sustains them or the methods they utilize. Their only requirement is to be profoundly and virulently anti-American and anti-West.
Whoever wishes to understand Chávez's behavior should read Epic of the Insurrection, a very interesting book, nicely written by Nicaraguan Gen. Humberto Ortega, a Sandinista and former minister of defense. Ortega tells -- with absolute frankness, much pride and thousands of facts -- how the Nicaraguan communists, at great cost, set up the subversive and insurrectional apparatus that liquidated the Somoza dictatorship.
Complicity with criminal gangs
But a second reading also demonstrates the intense degree of cooperation and solidarity between the ''brotherly'' forces in the socialist camp and the entire anti-West neighborhood.
Cubans, North Koreans, Russians and Palestinian terrorists turned out to help their Nicaraguan comrades ``unto victory forever.''
Chávez is not just the heir to the Soviet cause. He also inherited the tradition and strategy of ''revolutionary internationalism,'' something that includes total complicity with the criminal gangs. Moscow managed to shirk the consequences of that crime. Chávez probably will not be as lucky and will wind up, like Milosevic, behind bars.