Parallels between Charles Taylor and Hugo Chavez?
October 23, 2012
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In learning that Charles Taylor was prosecuted for just for aiding and abetting war crimes perpetrated by Sierra Leone’s proxy militia, it had me wondering what it would take to indict President Chavez in relation to his questionable ties to FARC.
While it is public knowledge that Chavez and FARC express ideological solidarity towards one another, the extent of Chavez’s political involvement in Colombian affairs remains under scrutiny.
Like Taylor, Chavez has been technically democratically elected and enjoys a populist following to shield him from domestic criticism. Chavez has recently appeared in the news for attempts at peace talks with FARC but the fact remains that there are substantial accusations against Chavez for endorsing this UN-deemed terrorist group.
Following the Colombian government’s successful 2008 raid of a clandestine FARC camp on the Ecuadorian border that resulted in the assassination of a senior FARC, the authorities seized computer hard drives with files that were confirmed to be genuine by Interpol.
The files mention $300 million in FARC funding from Chavez’s regime that was ostensibly supposed to be used for the construction of a dirty bomb as well as FARC response to requests from Venezuela’s intelligence services to provide urban warfare training to pro-Chavez groups when the socialist leader was feeling vulnerable following a brief 2002 coup. Later that year, American intelligence officials released a report citing clear evidence that, “Venezuelan officials have tried to facilitate the shipment of arms to the FARC.”
Earlier this year, the US grew concerned over Chavez’s announcement of General Rangel as defense minister; a statement from the Treasury Department then said that the general “materially assisted the narcotics trafficking activities of the FARC”.
Though trafficking is out of ICC jurisdiction, Taylor has set the precedence for holding a head of state accountable for sponsoring violence. Given that diplomatic relations between Colombia and Venezuela crumbled under the Chavez-FARC allegations, it would behoove the international community to investigatively intervene. However, does the hesitancy to act protect current and potential Colombian victims when Chavez is one of the few political figures FARC pays heed to?