Will Colombia Be the Proxy in a US Attack on Venezuela?

The U.S. is gearing up its rhetoric against Venezuela again as Condaleeza Rice barnstorms through Latin America -- and there are subtle indications that the U.S. may be ready to increase Colombia's role in undermining the government of Hugo Chavez. Our old friend Juan Forero wrote in Tuesday's New York Times that:

"As President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela veers toward greater confrontation with Washington, the Bush administration is weighing a tougher approach, including funneling more money to foundations and business and political groups opposed to his leftist government, American officials say."

But, he notes:

"A main problem for the United States is that Washington has little, if any, influence over Caracas. The high price of oil has left Venezuela with no need for the loans or other aid that the United States could use as leverage.

"Nor does the Bush administration have much support in Latin America, where left-leaning leaders now govern two-thirds of the continent."

Colombia appears to be the United States' one ally against Chavez -- and the U.S. is showing signs of a desire to use Colombia as a proxy to contain or topple Venezuela's government.  Hector Mondragon noted in a commentary three years ago that the bill passed by the U.S. Congress authorizing the transfer of U.S. military aid to Colombia from the "war on drugs" to the "war on terror" also allowed the use of U.S. military aid to combat "any other threat to Colombia's security."  At the time Mondragon suggested that this was an allusion to Venezuela.

On Tuesday, just before Condoleezza Rice arrived in Colombia, the Colombian defense ministry leaked a report on Venezuela's growing military strength to the international press, according to Reuters' Hugh Bronstein.  The memo claims that "It is an undeniable fact that the rearming of Venezuela deepens the military imbalance in the Andean region," -- words that seem designed to bolster a claim that Venezuela is a threat to Colombia.

Later, in a separate article Bronstein reported that "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday that Washington wants arms sales to Venezuela to be monitored due to concerns they could be transferred to Marxist rebels in neighboring Colombia."

It is difficult to imagine that the Colombian military, tied up in an endless war with the FARC, would have the resources to go to war against Venzuela.  Difficult -- but not impossible, especially if the U.S. were to promise Uribe that a war with Venezuela could be used as a pretext to generate a massive increase in U.S. military aid, and possibly some commitment of U.S. troops.   And with U.S. Special Forces already in Arauca, so close to the Venezuelan border, it might not be too difficult to state a "Gulf of Tonkin" type event to justify an increased U.S. commitment.

Now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant in watching exactly what the U.S. says and does in the Andean region.

User login

Navigation

About Sean Donahue

Personal Website
http://www.seandonahue.org

Biography
Sean Donahue is a poet, healer, activist, and freelance journalist wandering through New England.