Saturday, March 22, 2008

Freedom Rider: Hugo Chavez and the Obama/Clinton Twins

(Many thanks to Cem for this submission. Original article here - the Saker)

venezuela_ecuadorby BAR Editor and Senior Columnist Margaret Kimberley

With Republican candidate John McCain singing "bomb, bomb Iran", muttering about keeping troops in Iraq another hundred years, and offering US military solutions to the world's every problem, voters might reasonably expect Democratic candidates to offer sane and sensible alternatives to the aggressive foreign policies of the Bush regime. But both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama seem poised to continue the Bush regime's support of death squads and narco-kleptocracy in Columbia. Neither Democrat complains when Columbia's US trained and equipped army conducts murderous cross-border forays into Ecuador, or masses on the Venezuelan border. When it comes to foreign policy in South America, this year's Democrats offer little, if any "change".

Freedom Rider: Hugo Chavez and the Obama/Clinton Twins
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

If the next president is a Democrat, there will be no change in direction from Bush regime foreign policy. Violations of international law will continue. Outright lies will be told to the international community and to the media, and the damage done by the Bush regime will not be undone.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have confirmed it. They are both on record in support of Bush administration policy that encouraged one South American country to attack another. They are on record in support of an assassination plot that brought three nations to the brink of war.

ObamaHoldNoseClintonRecent news media headlines, “Venezuela masses troops on Colombian border” would lead one to believe that the crisis involving Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador was the result of wrong doing on the part of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The media rarely reveal that the president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, violated international law by first bombing and then sending troops into neighboring Ecuador on March 1st.

“Clinton and Obama are on record in support of an assassination plot that brought three nations to the brink of war.”

FARC, a Spanish acronym for Revolutionary Armed Forces for Colombia, is a guerrilla movement that has been engaged in battle against the Colombian government since the 1960s. Raul Reyes was the FARC international spokesman in the midst of negotiations for a prisoner exchange and release of hostages held by FARC and Colombia. Those negotiations took place with the full knowledge of the Colombian government and were close to being successfully concluded.

Hugo Chavez was at the center of the negotiations and worked with France, Spain, Switzerland and the International Red Cross on the prisoner release. The previous week four Colombians had been released by FARC and were given a grand welcome in Caracas, Venezuela. Reyes was too successful, and Uribe and Bush decided that he had to go.

With the help of the American military, Reyes’ satellite phone calls to Hugo Chavez were tracked and his location was pinpointed. On March 1st, Raul Reyes and 17 other FARC members were killed as they slept, first in a bombing attack and then execution style by Colombian troops. After the attack, the Colombian military took Reyes’ body and displayed it for the international media, a violation of the Geneva Conventions and of any standard of ethics.

Three envoys sent by French president Nicolas Sarkozy were scheduled to meet with Reyes on the day he was killed. Two days before the killings, Sarkozy said he was prepared to go to Colombia to free one of the hostages personally, French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt. His so-called American friends put him in his place and let him know he would not be allowed into Uncle Sam’s back yard without permission. If Sarkozy thought he was a Bush friend, he may want to rethink that assessment.

“Raul Reyes and 17 other FARC members were killed as they slept, first in a bombing attack and then execution style by Colombian troops on Ecuadoran soil.”

While the Bush administration was fanning flames in South America and insulting allies, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama jumped on the imperialist bandwagon. Neither of them criticized a government sponsored assassination, the violation of a nation’s sovereignty, or the sabotage of a humanitarian effort. Both parroted Bush administration lies about Hugo Chavez.

Hillary Clinton read straight from Bush talking points. “Rather than criticizing Colombia's actions in combating terrorist groups in the border regions, Venezuela and Ecuador should work with their neighbor to ensure that their territories no longer serve as safe havens for terrorist groups. After reviewing this situation, I am hopeful that the government of Ecuador will determine that its interests lie in closer cooperation with Colombia on this issue. Hugo Chavez must call a halt to this provocative action. As President, I will work with our partners in the region and the OAS to support democracy, promote an end to conflict, and to press Chavez to change course.”

“Neither Clinton nor Obama criticized a government sponsored assassination, the violation of a nation’s sovereignty, or the sabotage of a humanitarian effort.”

venezuela_ecuador_mapAccording to Hillary, Ecuador should just shut up and allow Colombia to kill within its borders. Only Chavez’s actions in defense of his nation are deemed provocative by the woman who says she alone can be trusted during international emergencies. In addition, she didn’t reveal that Raul Reyes was the FARC contact for officials in her husband’s administration. If she truly reviewed the situation and came up with this statement, her claims to be the best commander-in-chief are laughable at best.

The Obama statement is equally disturbing. "The Colombian people have suffered for more than four decades at the hands of a brutal terrorist insurgency, and the Colombian government has every right to defend itself against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The recent targeted killing of a senior FARC leader must not be used as a pretense to ratchet up tensions or to threaten the stability of the region. The presidents of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela have a responsibility to ensure that events not spiral out of control, and to peacefully address any disputes through active diplomacy with the help of international actors."

It is true that FARC has been fighting the Colombian government for four decades, but that is not the whole story. After a cease fire in 1984, FARC formed a political party and won seats in Colombia’s parliament. After participating in the democratic process, more than 4,000 FARC members and other activists were assassinated in 1985. FARC rationally concluded that coming above ground was not a prescription for change in their country. (*link alternet)

“Hillary Clinton read straight from Bush talking points. Obama gave Colombia the right to invade a neighboring as long as they claim to fight terrorism.”

Not only is his historical knowledge wanting, but Obama’s blithe acknowledgement of a “targeted killing” is disgraceful. So too is his assertion that it really isn’t that big a deal, and the wronged nation, Ecuador, should just try to get along with the provocateurs. He too gives Colombia the right to invade a neighboring country in clear violation of international law as long as they claim to fight terrorism. As for “international actors,” they were working to insure peace in the region before they were given a very public smack down by the United States.

The Obama/Clinton statements about the South American crisis are pretty much like their statements on every other foreign policy issue. They differ very little from one another or from the Bush administration. If they don’t speak out now against an unpopular lame duck, why should they work to undo his policies? The sad truth is that they neither one of them will. Bush style diplomacy will still win the day in the November elections. Fortunately Hugo Chavez will also be in office. There will be at least one leader willing to speak truth to American power.