I know Chavez well, and no one could be more reluctant than him to allow a showdown between the Venezuelan and Colombian peoples that leads to bloodshed. These are two fraternal peoples, the same as Cubans living in the east, center and west end of our island. I find no other way to explain the close relationship between Venezuelans and Colombians.
The slanderous Yankee accusation that Chavez is planning a war against neighboring Colombia led an influential paper of that country to run a story last Sunday, November 15, under the headline "War Drums." It was a pejorative and insulting editorial against the Venezuelan president asserting, among other things, that "Colombia should take very seriously the gravest threat to its national security in more than seven decades as it comes from a president with a military background…"
It goes on to say, "The reason is the growing potential for a provocation that can go from an incident along the border to an attack on civilian and military facilities in Colombia."
Further on, the editorial claims it is likely "…that Hugo Chavez intensifies his attacks against the ‘scrawny’-the sobriquet he applies to his oppositionists-and tries to remove from regional and local governments those who contradict him. He already did it with the Mayor of Caracas… and now he wants to try with the governors of the states sharing borders with Colombia who refuse to be under his rule… a clash with Colombian forces or the accusation that the paramilitary plan to conduct actions within Venezuelan territory could be the pretext required by Chavez’s regime to suspend constitutional rights."
Such words can only serve to justify the United States’ aggressive plans and the blatant treachery of the Venezuelan oligarchy and counterrevolution to their Homeland.
Coinciding with the release of that editorial, the Bolivarian leader had published his weekly column known as "Chavez’s Lines," where he analyzed the shameless concession of seven US military bases in Colombia, a country that shares about 1,281 miles of border with Venezuela.
In his article, the President of the Bolivarian Republic was very clear and brave in explaining his position:
"…I said it this Friday at the rally for peace and against the US military bases in Colombian territory: It is my duty to appeal to all of you, men and women, to defend Bolivar’s homeland, our children’s homeland… Our homeland is free today and we shall defend it with our lives. Never again will Venezuela be anybody’s colony; never again will it kneel down before any invader or empire… the extremely serious and transcendental problem in Colombia cannot be overlooked by the Latin American governments…"
Later on, he added some important concepts:
"… The entire ‘gringo’ war arsenal included in the agreement responds to the concept of extra-territorial operations… it turns the Colombian territory into an enormous Yankee military enclave… the greatest threat to peace and security in the South American region and in Our America."
"The agreement… prevents Colombia from offering anyone security and respect; not even Colombian men and women. A country that has lost its sovereignty and become an instrument of the ‘new colonial power’ envisioned by our Liberator cannot offer such guarantees."
Chavez is a true revolutionary, a profound and sincere thinker, a courageous and restless worker. He did not win power through a coup d’état. He rebelled against the repression and genocide unleashed by the neoliberal governments that surrendered the country’s huge natural resources to the United States. He endured incarceration; he matured and developed his ideas. He did not win power with weapons despite his military background.
It is his merit to have taken the difficult path of a profound social revolution starting out from the so-called representative democracy and an absolute freedom of expression, at a time when the most powerful media resources of the country were – they still are -in the hands of the oligarchy and at the service of the empire’s interests.
In just 11 years, Venezuela has achieved the greatest educational and social progress attained by any country in the world, despite the coup d’état and the destabilization plans and smearing campaigns implemented by the United States.
The empire did not decree an economic blockade on Venezuela – as it did in the case of Cuba – after the failure of its sophisticated actions against the Venezuelan people, because it would have meant blockading itself, given its foreign energy dependence. But it has not abandoned its purpose to do away with the Bolivarian process and the generous support this gives the Caribbean and Central American peoples in terms of oil resources, and its extensive trade relations with South America, China, Russia and numerous countries of Asia, Africa and Europe. Large segments of the population in every continent sympathize with the Bolivarian Revolution whose relations with Cuba are especially upsetting for the empire which for half a century has sustained a criminal blockade against our country. Through the ALBA, Bolivar’s Venezuela and Marti’s Cuba are promoting a new type of relationship and exchange on rational and fair basis.
The Bolivarian Revolution has been particularly generous with the Caribbean countries in times of an exceptionally grave energy crisis.
In the current new stage, the Venezuelan revolution is facing entirely new problems which did not exist almost exactly 50 years ago, when our revolution triumphed in Cuba.
At that time, drug-trafficking, organized crime, social violence and the paramilitaries were barely known. The United States had yet to become the huge drug market that capitalism and the consumer society have turned it into. It was not so difficult for the revolution to fight drug-trafficking in Cuba and to prevent the country from being drawn to its production and consumption.
Today, such scourges have brought to Mexico, Central America and South America a growing tragedy which is far from beaten. The unequal terms of trade, protectionism and the plundering of their natural resources has been compounded by drug-trafficking and the violence of organized crime that underdevelopment, poverty, unemployment and the huge US drug market have created in Latin American societies. The incompetence of that imperial and wealthy nation to prevent drug-trafficking and abuse has paved the way for the cultivation in many places of Latin America of plants whose value as raw material for drug production often exceeds that of the rest of the farm products, thus creating a very serious social and political quagmire.
In Colombia, the paramilitaris are today imperialism’s frontline force to combat the Bolivarian Revolution.
It is precisely thanks to his military background that Chavez knows that the struggle against drug-trafficking is a vulgar pretext used by the United States to justify a military agreement that fully responds to the US post-cold war strategic concept of extending its world domination.
The air bases, the means, the operational rights and total impunity granted to the Yankee military and civilian personnel by Colombia in its own territory have nothing to do with fighting drug cultivation, production and trafficking. This is currently a world problem spreading not only to South American countries, but also to Africa and other regions. It already prevails in Afghanistan despite the massive presence of the Yankee troops.
Drugs should not be used as a pretext to set up bases, invade countries and bring violence, war and plundering to Third World nations. This is the worst environment to sow good qualities in the people and to bring education, healthcare and development to other nations.
Those who think that division between Venezuelans and Colombians can lead to the success of their counterrevolutionary plans are deceiving themselves. Many of the best and most humble workers in Venezuela are Colombians; the Revolution has given them and their immediate family education, healthcare, employment, the right to citizenship and other benefits. Together, Venezuelans and Colombians shall defend the great Homeland of the Liberator of the Americas; together, they shall fight for peace and freedom.
The thousands of Cuban doctors, educators and other collaborators carrying out their internationalist duty in Venezuela shall be with them!