Shadow Government

The FARC’s enablers

When the Colombian military raided a camp of the narco-terrorist group FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) across the border in Ecuador in 2008, the resulting intelligence haul from computers belonging to FARC capo Raúl Reyes revealed the shocking extent to which the group conspired and colluded with the radical populist governments of Hugo Chavez ...

MIGUEL GUTIERREZ/AFP/Getty Images
MIGUEL GUTIERREZ/AFP/Getty Images

When the Colombian military raided a camp of the narco-terrorist group FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) across the border in Ecuador in 2008, the resulting intelligence haul from computers belonging to FARC capo Raúl Reyes revealed the shocking extent to which the group conspired and colluded with the radical populist governments of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Rafael Correa in Ecuador.

Unfortunately, however, Chavez and Correa were able to quickly divert international media attention away from the incriminating data by launching a hysterical campaign accusing the Colombian government of a wanton violation of Ecuador’s "sovereignty."  The result was neither Chavez nor Correa ever had to seriously answer for consorting with a terrorist organization.

Now, another opportunity is presenting itself for a settling of accounts.  Last week, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies released a two-year study of the massive trove of FARC data, entitled The FARC Files: Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of Raúl Reyes.  Among its notable conclusions is the fact that as the FARC’s military capabilities have been systematically degraded by the Colombian military over the past decade, the more important it has become to the FARC to drum up political support and legitimization outside Colombia and establish and maintain safe havens in neighboring states.

According to the IISS, Chavez allowed the FARC "to use Venezuelan territory for refuge, cross-border operations and political activity, and effectively assigned the group a role in Venezuelan civil society." Chavez even subsidized a FARC office in Caracas.

The data also revealed that the FARC and other drug traffickers contributed up to $400,000 to Correa’s 2006 presidential campaign.

The revelations have once again been met with a raft of unconvincing denials from Caracas and Quito and spurious accusations that the data was "fabricated." (On the charge that his campaign took money from the FARC, President Correa pronounced he "wouldn’t take 20 cents" from the group, even as the IISS points out that Ecuadorean bank records show his campaign received a $100,000 transfer right about the same time FARC e-mail messages said such a contribution was being made.)

The IISS does point out that the relationships were marked by mutual mistrust and suspicion, but that says more about there not being any honor among thieves than anything else. The bottom line is that Venezuela’s and Ecuador’s succor, indulgence, or otherwise benign neglect of a drug-running terrorist organization has undermined a sovereign, democratic neighbor’s efforts to establish law and order over the breadth of its territory. They also have unnecessarily complicated a multi-billion dollar joint U.S.-Colombian effort to disrupt the cultivation and trafficking of illicit narcotics that spawns criminality and violence wherever it puts down roots.

That is a record that has to be answered for. Chavez and Correa slipped the noose last time around. They shouldn’t be allowed to do so again.

José R. Cárdenas was acting assistant administrator for Latin America at the U.S. Agency for International Development in the George W. Bush administration.

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