Even we are frankly astonished by the depth of cynicism to which the Wall Street Journal has sunk this time. A March 25 editorial, entitled "A FARC Fan's Notes," touts (dubious) claims that the computer recovered from Colombia's (illegal) March 1 raid on a FARC guerilla camp in Ecuadoran territory contained communication to rebel leaders from a "go-between" linked to Rep. James McGovern. The respectfully diplomatic rhetoric of the communication is de rigeur for the obvious intent behind the missives—getting hostages freed. Yet the WSJ uses this to impugn McGovern's opposition to the pending US-Colombia free trade agreement—as if there were no legitimate reasons to oppose it, and the Massachusetts Democrat can only be a dupe of the narco-terrorist conspiracy to bring down democracy in the Western Hemisphere. Here is the text of this exercise in disingenuous propaganda:
At least two people were killed and 12 wounded on March 22 in Peru's northeastern Loreto department in clashes between police and mostly Achuar indigenous workers who had been occupying installations on the Pluspetrol Norte oil company's lot 1AB since March 20 in a labor dispute. The clashes occurred after the workers attempted to take over the Andoas airport on March 22; they were then removed by police agents, who stayed to patrol the area.
Colombia has asked Mexico to investigate ties between Mexican citizens and the FARC guerrillas after four Mexicans were found among the dead in Colombia's March 1 strike on a rebel camp in Ecuador. In disclosing the request, Mexico's Exterior Secretariat said the government had opened a probe into whether the country harbors FARC collaborators. "The Mexican government is worried that Mexican citizens might be involved with an organization like the FARC," the secretariat said in a statement.
Following litigation against Chiquita Brands International for its payments to Colombia's right-wing paramilitaries, the families of five missionaries and lay workers with the Florida-based New Tribes Mission killed by the FARC guerillas in 1994-5 have filed suit against the company in federal court in Miami. The 63-page complaint claims Chiquita provided "numerous and substantial hidden payments" to the rebels in addition to weapons and supplies, amounting to support for "acts of terrorism."
More than two weeks after Colombia's military incursion into Ecuadoran territory to take out Raul Reyes, a top-ranking leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), voices are being raised about possible US complicity or direction in the hit. On March 9, Simon Romero in the New York Times took a tentative stab at it, noting a similarity between the tactics of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and his pal George Bush—e.g. Washington's nearly identical hit on supposed al-Qaeda militant Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan last month...
We're surprised the right-wing blogosphere hasn't yet accused the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) of being behind the revelations of gubernatorial hanky-panky-for-pay in New York state. Among the now-shamed Elliot Spitzer's many enemies is Richard Grasso, the former NY Stock Exchange CEO brought down in 2003 by then-Attorney General Spitzer over "compensation issues." (In a March 13 Newsweek commentary, wittily entitled "Spitzenfreude," Daniel Gross invokes his name while noting the unseemly "joy at the governor's suffering" among The Street's bottom-feeders.) In June 1999, Grasso flew into the jungles of Colombia to meet with the FARC guerillas at their then-autonomous zone in Caquetá department, in an unlikely bid to convert them to capitalism. (Reuters, June 26, 1999) Actually, given the FARC's control over a sizable chunk of Colombia's cocaine trade, maybe the meeting wasn't all that unlikely. In any case, the visit served the rebels well in their bid for international legitimacy. There is a picture of Grasso hugging the late FARC commander Raul Reyes on his Wikipedia page.
Colombian trade, industry and tourism minister Luis Guillermo Plata was in New York on March 8 to push the Free Trade Agreement (FTA, or TLC in Spanish). Accompanied by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and other officials, Plata participated in a roundtable in Queens to defend President Alvaro Uribe's human rights policies. "At this time, the government of Colombia has more than 1,900 unionists under its protection," he said, claiming that the number of murders of unionists had fallen to 26 in 2007 from 196 in 2006. Outside the restaurant where the meeting was held, a group of youths from a local group, the People's Referendum on Free Trade, chanted slogans against the FTA. (El Diario-La Prensa, March 7)
The leaders of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela formally ended their dispute March 7 with handshakes and embraces at the 20th Rio Group Summit in the Dominican Republic, approving a "Santo Domingo Declaration," which condemns Colombia's March 1 cross-border raid in Ecuador but emphasizes the need for regional cooperation in combating illegal armed groups. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe apologized for the raid and pledged to refrain from further such incursions, in exchange for commitments on cooperation. The Rio Group, established in 1986, is a regional bloc aimed at promoting political and economic cooperation.