July 20, 2009

When Good Neighbors Become Good Friends

Quico says: Killer fact: 17% of all the cocaine produced in the Andes moves through Venezuela, now that the volume of coke trafficked through the country has risen four-fold from 2004 levels. That and other tidbits in the widely-leaked US congressional report on Venezuela-as-narcohub are scary enough in their own right, but only take on their full, macabre dimension when seen alongside late FARC leader Manuel Marulanda's deathbed letter to his guerrillas. In it, Tirofijo speaks repeatedly, matter-of-factly and in some detail about FARC's close and vital ties to the governments of Venezuela and Ecuador, often mimicking chavista rhetoric and stressing again and again his trust in and affection for "el amigo" - as he typically refers to Chávez.

Put that together with the fact that two of the three Venezuelan military officers on the US Treasury Department's list of drug kingpins (DIM head Hugo Carvajal and International Man of Mystery Ramón Rodríguez Chacín) are generally regarded as the liaisons between the Venezuelan government and FARC, and you get a tidy image of what this story's about: a highly effective way for the Venezuelan government to ensure FARC remains lavishly funded without having to directly fork over oil money and while preserving at least some bare-bones deniability.

Grave. Muy grave.

Post 3 of 100. This is fun!