These are tough times for Colombia. The
international left has the pro-American South American democracy in its
crosshairs. Why? Because Colombia recently committed what leftists
consider the cardinal sin—not only daring to resist leftists, but
actually scoring a significant victory against those antidemocratic
The victory came at the beginning of March.
Colombian military forces launched a surprise attack into Ecuador,
killing Raul Reyes and several other Colombians belonging to the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—the thuggish left-wing
gang that has sought to shoot its way to power in Colombia for 40
years. Reyes was FARC’s Number Two man. He was wanted in Colombia on 57
charges of murder and terrorism. Even the U.S. State Department had
offered $5 million for his capture.
surgical military strike into the Ecuadorean wilderness elicited
vehement denunciations from leftwing Latin American heads of state,
particularly from Venezuela’s Chavez, Bolivia’s Morales, Nicaragua’s
Ortega, and naturally, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa. It is
interesting that Correa went ballistic for this hours-long insult to
Ecuadorean sovereignty, but has never denounced the FARC army’s
years-long violation of that sovereignty by using Ecuador as a safe
Correa’s heated rhetoric about the Colombian
raid being an outlaw way to treat a “brother nation” is brazenly
hypocritical. Providing refuge for members of an armed force dedicated
to overthrowing the democratic government of a neighboring country is
the greater offense here. Correa surely knew that FARC was hiding out
in Ecuador’s sparsely populated north, for one of his own military
commanders publicly stated after the raid that he had “broken up”
numerous FARC camps. By this, we presume that he confiscated some
hammocks and tents left in the forest, for he apparently never
apprehended any FARC personnel. I doubt that the Ecuadorean army is
really that incompetent.
In fact, laptop computers confiscated by the
Colombian military from Reyes’ camp reportedly implicate Correa as an
accomplice or ally of FARC. Certainly, Correa must see the members of
FARC as kindred spirits, since they both espouse the most flawed and
discredited economic ideology of the 20th century—socialism.
In practice, however, FARC long ago degenerated into a terrorist mafia
whose agenda is comprised of assassinations, kidnapping, and drug
smuggling. For Correa to have tolerated, if not supported, FARC’s
presence in his country was a policy of hostility toward Colombia.
Even more outrageous than Correa’s conduct was
the reaction of Venezuela’s mercurial leader, Hugo Chavez. Chavez
eulogized the murderous Reyes as “a good revolutionary,” ordered 9,000
Venezuelan soldiers to his country’s border with Colombia, and made it
plain that he would give FARC safe refuge from Colombian justice as
long as he was in power. Chavez’ actions are clearly those of a man
rushing to the defense of an ally. Those actions lend credence to the
report that the confiscated computers document hundreds of millions of
dollars of aid from Chavez to FARC.
You might think that other Latin American
countries—seeing that Chavez is trying to undermine Colombia’s
government—would protest Chavez’ meddling, if not actually stand by
Colombia’s side. Not so. The less radical Latin American presidents
aren’t blind. They know how Chavez helped to organize disturbances in
Bolivia and Ecuador that drove presidents from office so they could be
replaced by Chavez allies. They know how much oil wealth Chavez is
willing to spend to support left-wing allies and topple democrats
throughout Latin America. This, I believe, intimidated them, and they
joined Chavez in denouncing Colombia’s act of self-defense—an act which
in no way hurt any other country.
At least Uncle Sam stood by our isolated ally
in South America. And why not? We have been in Afghanistan for over
five years in retaliation for far less death and destruction than what
Colombia has suffered at the hands of FARC for four decades. Sadly,
tragically, shamefully, though, our government’s solidarity with
Colombia didn’t last through April. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scuttled
the pending free trade pact with Colombia by changing House rules to
prevent a vote.
What explains this pointed rejection of a
longtime ally at such a critical juncture? Increased trade with
Colombia is no threat to the U.S. economy. We already have trade
agreements with Mexico, the Central American countries, and Chile,
whose collective GDP dwarfs Colombia’s. The reason is that John
Sweeney—the leftist head of the AFL-CIO—forced Pelosi’s hand.
This episode is highly instructive. It shows
how completely Big Labor controls the Democratic Party. It also
illustrates just how leftwing some labor leaders are. Earlier
generations of American labor leaders would patriotically support our
country’s allies. Sweeney, by contrast, is joining his fellow leftists
from Latin America in beating up on Colombia. While democracy is under
siege in our hemisphere, powerful forces in Washington are making
common cause with democracy’s enemies. Shame.