We knew this kind of action was inevitable. Not who the action would be directed against but the action itself has been apparent for sometime. Hugo Chavez is a power hungry nut:
President Hugo Chavez on Sunday ordered thousands of troops to the border with Colombia after Colombia’s military killed a top rebel leader.
Chavez told his defense minister: “Move 10 battalions for me to the border with Colombia, immediately.” He also ordered the Venezuelan Embassy in Colombia closed and said all embassy personnel would be withdrawn.
The announcements by Venezuela’s leftist leader pushed relations to their tensest point of his nine-year presidency, and Chavez warned that Colombia could spark a war in South America.
What precipitated the action was the killing of the second in command of the Marxist terrorist group FARC by the Colombian army. According to Time Colombia had received lots of money from the US to help stem the tide of cocaine and they used some of that to buy some state of the art communications technology which ultimately allowed them to find Raul Reyes and then kill the bastard:
His real name was Luis Edgar Devia Silva — and his satellite phone apparently gave away his location in remote southwestern Colombia, near or across the Ecuadoran border.
Critics might still complain that Plan Colombia — which has made the South American nation the third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid outside Iraq — is ignoring its original purpose. But the Bush Administration would argue that by beheading the FARC, Plan Colombia is actually fulfilling its anti-drug mandate — because at least half of the between $500 million and $1 billion the FARC is believed to earn each year is derived from protecting Colombian cocaine trafficking. The other half is made via ransom kidnapping — the FARC currently holds more than 700 hostages in its jungle redoubts, including three Americans — which is the other reason the U.S. State Department placed the rebels on its list of international terrorist groups a decade ago (as does the European Union today).
Although todays report says it was an informant, not a satellite phone as Time printed, that allowed them to find him:
Colombia’s military tracked Reyes’ location through an informant and bombed a camp on its side of the Ecuadorean border, where Reyes was thought to be, Santos said. Ground troops moved in but came under attack from another camp across the border in Ecuador. When the military overran that camp, they found Reyes’ body, Santos said.
Either way, Chavez is a bit miffed about the killing and, being his usual crazy self, had the gall to call the Colombian government a terrorist state.
“We pay tribute to a true revolutionary, who was Raul Reyes,” Chavez said, recalling that he had met rebel in Brazil in 1995 and calling him a “good revolutionary.”
Chavez said he had just spoken to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and that Ecuador was also sending troops to its border with Colombia.
“The Colombian government has become the Israel of Latin America,” an agitated Chavez said, mentioning another country that he has criticized for its military strikes. “We aren’t going to permit Colombia to become the Israel of these lands.”
This comes on the heels of his address to the Venezuelan people which included his demand that FARC be considered a legitimate army instead of the terrorists they are:
In a four-hour address to the Venezuelan Congress, Mr. Chávez described the FARC and another Colombian group, the Army of National Liberation (ELN), as “not terrorists” but “genuine armies.” He claimed that they possessed “a Bolivarian political project that is respected here,” a reference to his own, half-baked “socialism for the 21st century.” And he demanded that they be recognized as lawful belligerents by the United States and Latin American and European governments that now classify them as terrorist organizations. In short, Mr. Chávez was endorsing groups dedicated to violence and other criminal behavior in a neighboring Latin American democracy, and associating his agenda with theirs.
Now if he was smart he would wait this out another seven months until we see who the next President will be. If its one of the Socialist twins then he knows he can pretty much do what he wants without worrying that we will help out an ally in the region. Jimmy Carter did it to the Shah. Jimmy Carter version 2.0 will do it to Colombia.
But if he thinks Bush won’t do anything to protect an ally he is even more crazier then I would have imagined.