Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jan 24/08 | Open Letter to Rep. William (Bill) Delahunt (D-MA)

Desperately looking for friends
and always finding Rep. Delahunt!

The Honorable William D. Delahunt
U.S. House of Representatives
2454 Rayburn House Office Building
, DC 20515

January 24th 2008

Dear Rep. Delahunt:

I write to convey my doubts about your stance on issues affecting Venezuela and its relations to the U.S. I am a concerned Venezuelan national who over the years has observed your dodged efforts to cultivate a friendly and surprisingly tolerant relationship with Hugo Chávez, my country’s President.

Having met with you and having attended hearings and events at which you have spoken on the subject of Venezuela, I fail to comprehend the rational for your permissive posture towards the increasingly authoritarian and anti-U.S. President Chávez.

In an effort to better understand the motives and methods regarding your obstinate and narrow posture towards my country, I would like to pose the following questions to you. While I look forward to receiving a response, many in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as well as in my country, would be well served by reading the answers to these questions. In the interest of full transparency, I suggest you might include the answers and additional details about your close relationship with Mr. Chávez on a new section of your web site so your constituents can better appreciate your views and priorities:

  1. Given that the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) is listed as a terrorist group by both the European Union and the United States, does it not undermine the efforts of the legitimate democratically-elected government of Colombia in its quest for peace, as well as grant an unwarranted legitimacy to the FARC, when you send a letter to the FARC during the recent negotiations regarding the many hostages held by that terrorist group? Is this an effort to establish a practical political partnership with President Chávez who has called on the world to remove the label of “terrorist” from the FARC, in open defiance of the explicit wishes and policies of the democratically-elected government of Colombia? Do you agree with Mr. Chávez’s demand that the FARC should be granted belligerent status and thus stricken from the list of terrorist organizations?
  2. Several years ago, the government of Venezuela demanded the Government of the United States negotiate a new set of protocols for the operation of the DEA in Venezuela. The U.S. – according to published reports and testimony - did accede to this request and negotiated an agreement that was approved by Luis Correa, who was then Venezuela’s anti-narcotics chief. The agreement however was apparently discarded by Mr. Chávez. Given that the U.S. administration has harshly criticized Venezuela’s drug interdiction efforts, can you share Mr. Chávez’s rationale for not signing a revised cooperation agreement as it has been reported that this was discussed during your recent conversations with him?
  3. Why did you remain silent as Mr. Chávez was honoring the Iranian president, Mr. Ahmadinejad? As a known friend (some would say apologist) of Mr. Chávez, it would have made a serious impression upon people if you had chosen to condemn Chávez’s praises for this anti-Semitic ruffian?
  4. Other than condemning Chávez’s overblown rhetoric whenever Chávez insults President Bush, why have you failed to condemn any of the substantively anti-democratic acts committed by the Chávez government — including the politically motivated confiscation of the hard earned health and pension benefits of thousands of PDVSA employees who were fired arbitrarily; the persecution—without grounds—of countless individual citizens for political reasons; the refusal to follow judicial due process or hold any administrative fact finding proceedings prior to the closure of the RCTV television channel—these being among many other arbitrary and well-documented developments?
  5. Mr. Chávez has enlisted the services of Joseph P. Kennedy, a former Congressman from your own state of Massachusetts, to portray the corrupt and inept Bolivarian régime as being concerned for the fate of poor Americans. In this regard, have you read the report prepared by the GAO on the risks posed by Mr. Chávez’s reckless management of the largest oil reservoirs in the hemisphere? Sir, are you unaware of the effects on supplies and prices resulting from Mr. Chávez’s reckless firing in 2003 of almost all the qualified personnel at PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil monopoly? Sir, are you aware that one who reportedly spends “millions” to provide “relief” to the most needy in your state has himself vociferously demanded actions by OPEC that have led to higher oil prices, which have had pernicious effects on every single household in the U.S.?

Mr. Delahunt, I respectfully request your answers these questions as openly as they have been asked and delivered to you. I will duly post them on my blog where I am also posting this letter.


Pedro M. Burelli

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Jan 04/08 | What the FARC is Going On? DNA Trumps Evil Ruse!

Friendly pictures such as this turns many men and
women into amoral apologists for violence and sadism...shame on them!

PMBComment: 2007 ended and 2008 started with the dramatic unraveling of one of the most startling tragicomedies in recent history. Hugo Chávez's latest ruse for international attention – the exceedingly scripted yet fatally flawed rescue of 3 long-held hostages of the Colombian FARC - blew up in his face and in the face of those countries and individuals that had chosen to participate in an all-too-obvious charade (for background see AP story below).

There is an undeniable temptation to lay blame on Lt. Colonel Chávez or ridicule the populist stance of starlet-crazed Sarkozy and the personal involvement of detestably amoral Mr. Kirchner; but OAS Secretary General Insulza stepped in and set the right tone when he assigned singular responsibility for the inhumane fiasco to the FARC. While his was an obvious conclusion, it is amazing how many international commentators and policymakers are willing to slalom around facts in order to sink their fangs in the jugular of hard-to-love-yet-courageous-and-immensely-legitimate President Uribe. For many around the world (and this includes Hollywood) the easiest way to criticize the immensely unpopular President Bush is to attack, with little regard for truth, those who have maintained a public association with him and his policies. While this is expeditious, it is also morally flawed and ephemeral.

Lets use this "made for Hollywood" sham to remind the "naïve" French and the anti-Bush fanatics that there would be no rescue mission if there where no hostages to be rescued. The FARC – ever consistent hostage-takers - are nothing but a criminal organization hell bent on violence and obsessed not so much with achieving political supremacy but with ensuring absolute impunity. Having long discovered the dividends of delving in the world of drug manufacture and traffic they have essentially abandoned kidnappings as a means to raise funds to pay for guns, uniforms and food. Hostages are acquired as human shields - bargaining tools - to ensure that a criminal existence has zero consequences, that camps are not bombed and that governments are neutered by the understandable pleas of loved ones. This is what explains the FARC's pitiless ability to hold on to hostages not for months but for years. Such depravity alone should justify, sooner rather than later, an international posse to exterminate them and should forever shame all those who ran to Villavicencio to act not as saviors, or guarantors, but as choirboys and cheerleaders to an out-of-whack and increasingly dangerous Hugo Chávez.

As a proof that good always trumps evil (even if it takes time) the truth came with the same name Chávez gave to the botched "operation": Emmanuel. As it turns out, a boy called Emmanuel by his mother, born in captivity and under circumstances still unknown, had been for months in the unsuspecting care of the same Government that Mr. Chavez (and his duplicitous partners in the FARC) is trying hard to undermine. DNA testing – plus the surprising silence on the matter from the narco-criminals - has proven that the FARC was not in possession of a hostage they had promised to release via their Bolivarian idol and propagandist. As it turns out, the dysfunctional thugs that have terrorized Colombia for almost 50 years once again proved consistent and defied the world, and all notion of common sense, by shooting themselves once in the temple and once in the foot, and then sinking the biggest lifeboat they have had in years.

What's next? Very difficult to predict how this convoluted cast of characters will digest events that have surpassed the combined truculence of old Castro-fan Gabriel Garcia Marquez and new Chavez-fan Oliver Stone. But what should be clear is that Mr. Chavez cannot mediate, and therefore all Colombians plus well meaning foreigners should refuse any offer of assistance from a narcissist that has long made up his crooked mind in favor of the FARC. Mr. Uribe, like him or not, easily won reelection on a record and a platform of dealing forcefully with the FARC, and this is a mandate that the world community should respect and indeed support. Foreigners meddling in Colombia behind the back of its legitimate government are only aiding and abetting criminals. Mr. Sarkozy can help his Napoleonic ego more by prancing around with a pop celebrity, than by sticking his fingers in a matter he has proven to ignore from top to bottom. Mr. Kirchner, who had the audacity to blame Uribe for the failed release, should worry now about explaining to his countrymen the use of cash allegedly provided to him personally repeatedly and by the case load by Mr. Chávez. Mr. Lula should, once and for all, rid himself of the company of his conduit to the FARC, Marco Aurelio Garcia, who has presided over little more than a remarkable increase in the Colombian drug flows via Brazil.

And we must all focus on the 3,000 human lives trapped by criminals whose principal activity endangers the lives of hundreds of millions around the world. We should stand on the side of law, order and democracy and stop the perverse game of moral relativity that has served to perpetuate the FARC and its drug empire. We should grow up and understand that obsessing about Mr. Bush is a habit with deadly consequences. Evil is not a result of who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania, it is a fact of life we have to confront on a daily basis without surrendering our moral compass and without letting passion overwhelm facts. PMB

DNA: Orphan Is Colombian Hostage's Son

By JOSHUA GOODMAN – 2 hours ago

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Results of a DNA test on Friday revealed why leftist rebels failed to deliver this week on their promise to free a 3-year-old boy born in captivity: Little Emmanuel has spent the last two years not in a jungle rebel camp, but in a Bogota foster home.

The story of Emmanuel has transfixed Colombia since a Colombian journalist first reported in a 2006 expose book that he was born to one of the rebels' most prominent hostages, former vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas, as the product of a relationship with one of her captors, reportedly a rank-and-file guerrilla named Rigo.

The story drew in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been negotiating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to release the child, his mother and another hostage. But what Chavez called "Operation Emmanuel" fell through this week when the rebels said operations by Colombia's U.S.-backed military were preventing them from handing over the hostages.

On Friday, chief federal prosecutor Mario Iguaran said DNA tests performed on Rojas' family members and an orphaned child proved that the boy known as Juan David Gomez is actually Rojas' son.

The boy had been handed over at the age of 11 months by Jose Gomez, a peasant farmer who said he was the child's great-uncle, to child welfare workers in San Jose de Guaviare, a town in a FARC-dominated zone of eastern Colombia. The baby had a broken arm and was sick from malnutrition and leishmaniasis, an infection common in the jungle.

The baby was rushed to Bogota for an operation to heal his arm, then sent to a foster home in the capital, one of 6 million neglected and orphaned minors placed under the state's care. He lived there for two years in obscurity.

Until the hostage handover planned for late December. The operation was delayed repeatedly as observers including U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone and promiment Latin American leftist politicians waited.

Then prosecutors secretly received a tip that Emmanuel was no longer in the FARC's control. Three days later, Jose Gomez emerged again, saying he was actually the boy's father and wanted him back.

The government put everything together with the help of the 2006 testimony of Frank Pinchao, a former police officer who escaped from nine years in captivity to tell of the birth of Emmanuel, during which he said rebel midwives accidentally broke the boy's arm in a risky jungle delivery.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a Chavez foe who had been humiliated by the prospect of a Chavez-brokered handover, announced on New Year's Eve that Emmanuel and Juan David might be the same boy.

Jose Gomez then confessed that he had no relation to the child, saying a local FARC commander entrusted him with the baby in exchange for extra money he never provided. He said the FARC threatened him with death if he didn't produce the child by Dec. 30, according to the Colombian government.

The test comparing the boy's DNA to that of Clara Rojas' mother proved Uribe's hunch.

"Juan David is Emmanuel," Igauran said Friday.

The result is a major embarrassment for the FARC, exposing its plan to release the three hostages as either an elaborate ruse, internal disarray or miscommunication between rebel commanders and the decentralized units where the hostages are being held. Colombia's government celebrated even as Venezuela complained Colombia didn't let Venezuelan doctors perform their own tests.

"The proves again that the FARC is lying to the world, laughing in the face of national and international public opinion by offering someone they don't have and then blaming the government in a Machiavellian and macabre way," Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.

Iguaran said it would take another two weeks for a European laboratory to confirm the preliminary DNA analysis, after which child welfare agents would determine whether the Rojas family should be granted temporary custody.

Rojas's brother Ivan said the Rojas family "looks forward to having him with us soon," but their top priority remains the freedom of the boy's mother, who has spent almost six years in captivity.

"If anybody has any doubt about the boy's paternity, then Clara should freed so we can do a direct exam between mother and son," Ivan Rojas said. "Only with my sister freed can we settle the issue once and for all."

Associated Press Writer Tatiana Guerrero contributed to this report.

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