Sunday, June 8, 2008
Time to worry? Venezuela's Chavez starts making sense
What in the world motivated Venezuela's rabidly anti-U.S. president, Hugo Chavez, to urge leftist rebels in neighboring Colombia to lay down their arms and free all hostages after years of war? Chavez, the socialist South American leader who called President Bush "the devil" at the United Nations, urged the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) to end the conflict on his weekly television and radio program. "The guerrilla war is history," Chavez said. "At this moment in Latin America, an armed guerrilla movement is out of place." Perhaps his motivation actually was what he said it was, an effort to diminish the authority of the United States, which he calls "the empire." Chavez said that as long as the rebels are fighting Colombia's government, the United States would have reason to exert influence in Latin America. "You in the FARC should know something," Chavez said. "You have become an excuse for the empire to threaten all of us. The day that peace arrives in Colombia, the empire will have no excuses." The Venezuelan leader's comments also could help improve relations with its neighbor, which have been strained over to Colombia's allegations that Chavez is aiding FARC, according to the Associated Press.