Of Puppets, Puppeteers, Hostages and Politicians

December 27, 2007
It
has now become a very complicated game of puppets and puppeteers in
which its is hard to distinguish who is manipulating or trying to
manipulate whom, in a perverse game with the FARC and its hostages. At
the start, it seemed as if the FARC and Uribe had the upper hand as
puppet masters. Chavez fell for their game and he was getting very
little out of it. Thinking that the FARCs wishes were somewhat aligned
with him, he played along and came out empty. After weeks of promises,
the FARC delivered little, he pressed too hard and got Uribe mad, which
led to their spat.

Uribe got what he wanted at
the time, his popularity shot up and Chavez thought he would get more
votes in the referendum, as some polls suggested, but maybe the
Colombian population that votes in Venezuela had in the end a larger
effect, since Chavez’ lukewarm supporters did not go and vote on Dec. 2nd, sealing his defeat..

And as Chavez lost his Constitutional gamble on Dec. 2nd.
he found himself losing all over. A spat with the King here, a spat with
Uribe there and a surprising rejection of his project from his
supporters was certainly not a promising framework for his future. And as problems in
Venezuela become harder to figure out, Chvez traveled and likely got
some advice from the master puppeteer in Havana, who suggested he try
to get something out of the FARC, just for show. Temporary relief. He
fell for it and so has the media.

The FARC,
who could care little about Chavez in the end, offered a very token
gift of three hostages, out of the more than 400 in their hands and
certainly not the big international catch that everyone is waiting for,
as Ingrid Betancourt is not in the package.

But
leave it to Chavez and his Cuban media masters to play it up and the
stupid international media to fall for it. Chvez held a press
conference yesterday, doing the only thing he enjoys and knows
something about: military operations. So, while problems mount in
Venezuela, including more than 200 homicides over the Christmas season,
which must certainly be a new record, Chavez likely put his military
uniform and played with little mock up planes and helicopters, reliving
his days of failure as a military Commander, but enjoying himself. What
else could he ask for?

The FARC meanwhile, gave
up very little, but managed to slightly undermine their archenemy
Alvaro Uribe, who was forced to accept the military operation cooked up
in the depths of the Miraflores Palace. But Uribe keeps playing his game, he knows
the FARC have their own agenda and have never given up anything of significance and
will in the end make Chavez look bad.

Chvez
meanwhile was relishing his role as a newly found humanitarian, which
would almost be comic, except that it is simply pathetic. Never in the
whole process has Chavez asked to have any of the Venezuelan hostages
released. While not all eighty of them are in the hands of the FARC, as mostly they represent simply financial transactions in which if the relatives
pay, the hostages will be released, in what has become the standard
transaction of that guerrilla/mercantile institution called the FARC.

Of
course, a true humanitarian would have released this Christmas or prior Christmases not one,
but dozens of his political prisoners, held without trial or evidence, who
languish in the countrys jails without even receiving due process. Remarkably, this nouveau
humanitarian refuses to give others, some of them former friends and
colleagues, the same treatment given to him when he got an
unconditional pardon after leading to failure an unconstitutional and
bloody coup that left many dead, mostly innocent civilians, in various cities of
Venezuela.

The FARC only wants to get
rid of Uribe, to impose who knows what type of regime, after thousands
have died in a bloody and stupid war, like all wars, that they dont
seem to want to end for the simple reason that they dont want to give up the power they
have. Chavez at the same time, wants to get rid of Uribe and get
someone more friendly to his own international ambitions, now that his
own national goals have been put on hold for the time being by his
people. Uribe on the other hand just wants to annihilate the FARC and
consolidate his power, both politically and militarily. If he can do
Chavez some damage in the process, then even better.

Meanwhile,
as it is usually the case when politicians and military factions are
involved, it is the people that lose. In Venezuela, our lame duck
President rather than paying attention to our myriads of problems, creates
this circus of distraction to hide his own incompetence and his inability
to do better, including the release of our own Venezuelan hostages. In
Colombia, the hostages will hear about this token signal by their captors and get their
spirits up, but one would need over 100 similar operations and
commitments from the FARC to have everyone freed. They will never do
it.

Meanwhile, the Court jesters and
recipients of Venezuelas welfare, fly in to be in the limelight, from
the former President Kirchner to Evo, trapped today in his own political labyrinth,
go join the chorus and the cheerleading, as if this was some form of
success: luring a bloody terrorist group to release an irrelevant
number of hostages in order to prop up their magnanimous friend.

And
the traditional media will be there to describe and broadcast with
their customary stupidity the Grand Guignol set up in this silly
multinational confrontation. The same media that is blamed for creating
imaginary shows and plots out of nothing, such as suitcases full of cash
and the like. Except this time around they will be flown in, wined and
dined for the benefit of the show. And they will make something out of
nothing

And the perverse show will just go on

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