That Venezuela is backing a terrorist movement against a neighboring democratic government has been beyond dispute since at least 2008, when Colombia recovered laptops from a FARC camp in Ecuador containing extensive documentation of Mr. Chávez’s political and material support. Colombia’s presentation to the OAS last week contained fresher and more detailed intelligence. Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos supplied precise map coordinates for several of the 75 FARC camps that he said had been established on Venezuelan territory and that harbor some 1,500 militants. He showed photos and videos, including one of a top commander from another Colombian terrorist organization, ELN, sipping Venezuelan beer on a popular Venezuelan beach.
Mr. Chávez responded with predictable bluster, breaking off relations with Bogota and threatening (not for the first time) to cease oil exports to the United States. Another crisis with Colombia probably benefits the caudillo, who is desperate to distract attention from his country’s imploding economy and soaring violence.
Nevertheless, the question remains: Will other democracies support Colombia against this flagrant violation of international law? The Obama administration is characteristically lukewarm. The State Department, which has designated the FARC a terrorist organization, said it found Colombia’s allegations “persuasive” but limited itself to supporting “a transparent international process” to investigate them. Perhaps more consequentially, one of the leading candidates in Brazil’s presidential election campaign, José Serra, said “it is undeniable that Chávez is sheltering these FARC” militants. Under outgoing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil has been one of Mr. Chávez’s chief apologists and enablers. Were that support to be withdrawn, Mr. Chávez might have to rethink his terrorist alliance.
Would Lula pull his support? I doubt it.
However, with the upcoming election in Brazil, that may change.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government condemned the WaPo editorial as being “dogmatic” (link in Spanish) in an open letter sent by Venezuelan ambassador to the US Bernardo Álvarez, which started by saying
One more time, the Post’s editorial page dogmatically editorializes against the Venezuelan government, asserting that a collection of Google maps and a bunch of outdated pictures taken out of context – presented by the Álvaro Uribe’s government in a media show — are the most recent “proof” about Venezuela’s support for “terrorist” groups.
Regardless of his letter, the evidence speaks for itself.
Follow-up post: Chavez sends troops to Colombia border