The Irish Times on Saturday 17th July published an article about Colombian claims that Venezuela is sheltering members of the FARC guerrilla group. This is an old chestnut that Colombia and the US revive from time to time, especially if there’s need to draw attention away from other news and particularly if it’s embarrassing news. There could be members of FARC in Venezuela as it is practically impossible to guard such a difficult border. Venezuela has suffered frequent incursions from the Colombian side but mainly by right-wing paramilitary death squads who regularly target Venezuelan trade unionists and community leaders. These death squads are linked to the Colombian army and have been carrying out this type of activity for many years in their own country. This is a model favoured by the US and was used to deadly effect in El Salvador.
At the end of 2009, according to the international Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre there were up to 4.9 million IDPs in Colombia, bringing it alongside Sudan as one of the two largest internal displacement situations in the world. An interesting point about FARC’s presence in Venezuela is that before President Chavez came to power the guerrilla group maintained an office in Caracas.
In the same article the Irish Times have also come up with another non-story about the Colombian military: the discovery of Swedish weapons in a FARC camp that the manufacturer said had been sold to the Venezuelan military. This transaction also predates the coming to power of Hugo Chavez. If the Irish Times would only check our updates.
The IT repeats the lie about food shortages being caused by economic mismanagement of the economy. This is in complete contrast to statements from the UN on the subject. In February this year the representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Venezuela, Francisco Arias Milla, said the Venezuelan government’s investment in domestic food production and regional food security will strengthen its ability and that of its neighbors to withstand the worsening global food crisis.
“The FAO recognizes the efforts of the national government [of Venezuela] to introduce policies, strategies, and programs to confront the global economic crisis and the volatility of food prices, and at the same time to protect the food and nutritional security of the Venezuelan people.”
Arias Milla identified Venezuela’s national subsidized food market, Mercal, its growing system of public cafeterias, and the state-run Venezuelan Food Production and Distribution company (PDVAL), which sells food at regulated prices, as examples of policies which “permit greater access to food for the most vulnerable strata of society.” There have been food shortages but the reasons are many. One being that Venezuelans have more disposable income, so are eating more. Another has been the efforts by large private multiples to cause shortages by hoarding and speculation.
As for mismanagement of the economy, of course there’s been some of that but unemployment is at a historic low, the newly nationalised (one year old) Bank of Venezuela has posted phenomenal results, which has brought it from being the third placed bank to number one. Access to free healthcare and education is now available to most Venezuelans. So it’s not all economic mismanagement.
The story that the Irish Times missed and which is an embarrassing situation for the US was, of course, the capture of the Salvadorian terrorist Francisco Chávez Abarca, an accomplice of Luis Posada Carriles. Carriles, who has been called the “Bin Laden of Latin America” is a nationalized Venezuelan who is wanted for an attack on a Cuban plane in 1976 that left 73 passengers dead.
He is currently in Miami where he is being protected by the U.S government. Contrary to international law, they refuse to extradite him. Abarca has confessed to being contracted by Luis Posada Carriles to carry out destabilizing acts in Venezuela in the run-up to the September National Assembly elections. Abarca is now talking and naming names, including his CIA handler and his Venezuelan contacts. He also has told of plans to assassinate opposition deputy Pastora Medina (of the Frente Humanista or Humanist Front) in an attempt to provoke a political backlash from opposition forces. Abarca also spoke of plans to bomb a Caracas plaza during the World Cup final. Mind you it’s only a small story!
The IT hasn’t mentioned the invasion of Costa Rica by 46 US warships and 7,000 Marines in direct violation of the constitution of that country | . Another major Latin American story not being covered by the IT and indeed most of the Western press, is the continuing human rights abuses by the US backed regime in Honduras. These stories and the building of seven US military bases in Colombia which will ratchet up tension in all of Latin America, are surely worth more space than the constant focus on the Venezuelan economy.
It seems that the IT’s long negative campaign against Venezuela will continue and interestingly their article appeared one day after a statement on the same subject at a US State Department briefing.
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