>– FMLN Regime in San Salvador Opens Embassy in Havana as It Projects Moderate Image in USA, Sends President Funes to Meet Obama
– President Lobo Invites Deposed Predecessor Back to Homeland as Honduran Left Agitates for Lobo’s Removal, Zelaya’s Reinstatement
– Colombia’s Center-Right Parties Win March 14 Congressional Vote, Uribe’s Anointed Successor Faces Off Against Former M-19 Guerrilla in May 30 Presidential Poll
There appears to be a new willingness in Washington DC to acknowledge that Communist Venezuela is a “destabilizing force” in the Western Hemisphere. Last Thursday, in testimony to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, General Douglas Fraser, chief of the US Armed Force’s Southern Command, admitted:
They [the Venezuelan government] continue to have a very anti-US stance and look to try and restrict US activity wherever they have the opportunity to do that. They are continuing to engage with the region and continuing to pursue their socialism agenda. They remain a destabilizing force in the region.
Venezuela continues to provide the FARC a safe haven and financial logistical support.
Fraser’s strangely frank comments came barely a week after the good general told a US Senate hearing that “The Pentagon has no evidence of a government-to-terrorist connection between President Hugo Chavez’s government and Colombian FARC rebels.” The good general’s sudden candor also suggests that—gasp!—communism may not be dead after all, in spite of its KGB-orchestrated funeral on Christmas Day 1991. For Internet surfers who may be too young to remember, on that day Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced the demise of CCCP V1.0. (V2.0 waits in the wings. See quote at top of this blog.)
Venezuela’s ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, protested that Fraser’s about-face was politically motivated: “The Obama administration is continuing the aggressive policy against Venezuela of the Bush administration. They cannot accept a government with a different ideological perspective in this hemisphere.” Venezuela is among the USA’s top five oil suppliers and its second-leading trading partner in Latin America, after Mexico. However, in spite of the ideological differences between Washington and Caracas—that is, soft communist versus outright communist—Alvarez soothed: “Venezuela has no interest in reducing the oil trade.”
Comrade Alvarez is correct. Venezuelan oil will be used as a bargaining chip later, after President Barack Hussein Obama bans offshore drilling in the USA, after Russian companies begin drilling for oil in Cuban waters, and after Obama imposes full-blown socialism on America, beginning with mandatory private health care. In a March 18 editorial titled “Obama Surrenders Gulf Oil to Moscow,” the Washington Times worried: “Russia is projecting power in the Western Hemisphere while the United States retreats. The world will not tolerate a superpower that acts like a sidekick much longer.”
Russian companies also intend to exploit offshore oil reserves in Venezuelan waters. The two Communist Bloc allies are in reality playing energy politics with the intent of hobbling the infrastructure of the world’s remaining superpower. Additional confirmation of this conspiracy includes a March 17 comment from Chavez’s energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, who is also head of Venezuela’s state-run oil monopoly. The PDVSA boss stated that in spite of recent shutdowns due to power outages in the Netherlands Antilles and the US military presence in the Dutch-owned islands, Venezuela has no intention of abandoning its lease on the Isla oil refinery in Curacao.
Meanwhile, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has made his first pilgrimage to Moscow. In February he hosted Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who signed an agreement with Guatemalan counterpart Haroldo Rodas to combat the illicit drug trade. In 2007 then President Vladimir Putin visited Guatemala, at which time he met Colom’s predecessor, Oscar Berger, and inaugurated Russia’s first embassy in Guatemala City. Colom is Guatemala’s first center-left president since the communist-backed Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was overthrown by the military in 1954 and then spent some time in exile in Communist Cuba, before living out the remainder of his years in Mexico.
Colom, who has yet to lock his country into the Havana/Caracas-led Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), is already linked to Chavez by way of subsidized Petrocaribe oil. He also follows a parade of center-left and communist leaders from Latin America who have travelled to Moscow over the last 18 months, including Cuba’s Raul Castro, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, and Guyana’s Bharrat Jagdeo. Chavez himself materializes in Moscow on a nearly yearly basis.
Arriving in Russia on Sunday, Colom met counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, with whom he approved bilateral packages promoting cooperation in the military-technical field, oil and gas exploration, telecommunications, transportation, and tourism. According to the Ukrainian media, Russia is expecting a quid pro quo for all of the attention it is lavishing on this small Central American country: Guatemala must recognize the independence of breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Examining the raft of new Russian-Guatemalan agreements, it appears that this new alliance may very well lead to Guatemala purchasing Russian arms and hosting Russian “experts” to counter the endemic drug violence in Central America. The Soviet strategists are already cautiously cultivating similar linkages with the beleaguered Mexican government.
Commenting on their meeting, Medvedev enthused: “Russia sees Latin America as an emerging global force and plans all-round ties with countries in it.” The Russian president also thanked Colom for his role in promoting visa-free travel for Russians to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. For his part, Colom gushed: “It would be a mistake if Guatemala and other Latin American countries refrain or abandon relations with a serious partner like Russia.”
The Marxist leadership of El Salvador’s ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) has yet to scurry to Moscow. It also appears anxious not to alarm US policymakers over El Salvador’s new-found relationship with Cuba. On the one hand, the real “power behind the throne” in San Salvador is Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a doctrinaire Leninist who led the FMLN guerrillas into battle 20 years ago and cheered when Osama bin Laden’s disciples dive-bombed three airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Last year, in preparation for opening El Salvador’s first-ever embassy in Havana, Sanchez flew to Havana to confer with his Cold War-era mentors.
Several weeks ago, though, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, who represents the FMLN’s moderate “face,” travelled to Washington, where he had a friendly tete-a-tete with Obama. During the March 9 meeting the two presidents focused much of their discussion on the international drug trade that has left a path of death and destruction between South America and the US-Mexican border. “We want to be supportive, not only in addressing the symptoms that we see in terms of crime, but also the root causes, and I know that’s something the president [Funes] cares deeply about as well,” Obama remarked.
Prior to the Obama-Funes meet-and-greet, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Washington has dropped the ball when it comes to the War on Drugs in Central America. Under the Merida Initiative, the US government allocated $1.6 billion to combat the drug trade in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, but most of the funds wound up in Mexico. Throwing more US taxpayer money at red banana republics like El Salvador will probably yield little tangible result until the Obama White House owns up to the fact that the Russian Mafia (FSB/SVR/KGB) is arming the Mexican drug cartels and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which produce 90 percent of the cocaine flowing into the USA.
As a sop to Washington, San Salvador has sent out mixed messages concerning future membership in ALBA, and offered to recognize Porfirio Lobo as the legitimate president of Honduras. Chavez recently appointed Manuel Zelaya as head of Petrocaribe’s Political Council, a move that clearly exposes the deposed Honduran president as a puppet of Venezuela’s red dictator. For his part, Lobo, a wealthy rancher who graduated from Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba University during the Cold War, is offering Zelaya, another wealthy rancher, the opportunity to return to his homeland without fear of prosecution.
Lobo’s decision is not wise because the Honduran Left continues to agitate for his own demise. “Our objectives these days are ambitious. We will have to work seriously and strenuously,” declared Carlos Reyes, union leader and member of the National People’s Resistance Front leadership. On March 16 1,000 leftists converged in La Esperanza for the second meeting for “Honduran Re-Foundation,” with the intent of “putting an end to the current dominating [regime] that plunders, exploits and oppresses the country.” Reyes accused the US ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, of “interfering openly in the country’s internal affairs and carrying out maneuvers to divide the resistance.”
Openly campaigning in Honduras, Zelaya would serve as a lightning rod for both domestic and foreign subversive forces. The latter could include Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan agents.
Meanwhile, the number of recently murdered journalists in Honduras reached three after gunmen fired AK-47 automatic rifles at Nahun Palacios, director of a TV news channel in the city of Tocoa. The killers fled the scene, leaving another man with Palacios seriously wounded. Last week two gunmen killed journalist David Meza in similar circumstances in La Ceiba, a town near Tocoa. Meza was a reporter for Radio El Patio and correspondent in his hometown for Radio America and TV Channels 7 and 10 in Tegucigalpa. On March 1 Joseph Ochoa of Channel 51 was murdered.
While it is possible that clandestine forces on the Honduran Right are once again plying their bloody trade, it is also possible that the Honduran Left, working with organized crime, is carrying out these provocations to force an over-reaction from Lobo’s government.
Finally, in what may be interpreted as a positive development for South America, in a March 14 election the four center-right parties that have backed Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over the past eight years won a handy majority in the country’s bicameral national legislature. These include the chief Uribist formation, the National Unity Social Party, as well as the Conservative, Cambio Radical, and National Integration parties. A presidential election is slated for May 30, but after two terms as president Uribe cannot run again. Uribe’s anointed successor is former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos, whose policies are viewed as a threat to its own longevity by the Chavezista regime in Venezuela. Throughout his presidency Uribe retained a 60 percent public approval rating. Santos is pictured above.
Santos’ main contenders are independent candidate Sergio Fajardo and Alternative Democratic Pole candidate Gustavo Petro Urrego. Leftist Urrego is currently a Colombian Senator but at an earlier stage in his career was an insurgent in the 19th of April (M-19) guerrilla movement.