Adventures at the Ibero-American summit of leaders. Chavez was talking about how the Spanish right-wing including the prime minister at the time, Jose Maria Aznar, supported the coup against his government in 2002. He called Aznar a “fascist”, and the King of Spain said to him: “Why don’t you shut up?” Then Bachelet of Chile tried to moderate while Zapatero, Spain’s current prime minister, told Chavez that Aznar had been elected and deserves respect, even though he (Zapatero) doesn’t agree with him. Ortega of Nicaragua spoke in Chavez’s defense. Reflections about the symbolism of that little moment are left to the reader.
On to more serious business – the humanitarian accord between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, which was the subject of a long meeting between Chavez and Colombia’s president Uribe at the Ibero-American summit.
Recap: The FARC are asking for the government to withdraw from two zones and leave them to FARC control and release 500 prisoners in exchange for 45 prisoners who had been kidnapped by FARC, mostly civilians. Last night I had the chance to hang out with Colombian journalist Hollman Morris, a pretty-well informed fellow who is in North America to receive an award from Human Rights Watch, and he thinks the deal is likely to go through, because Venezuela, France, and the US are all supportive. I suggested that US support could be fickle and withdrawn at any point on the old “don’t negotiate with terrorists” argument. But Hollman didn’t think that’s the way the wind is blowing.
One important Colombian in the humanitarian accord is senator Piedad Cordoba, who was important back in 2003 in defeating Uribe’s referendum. She revealed the other day that shortly after she met with FARC leader Raul Reyes, the Colombian Army attacked and almost killed the guerrilla leader. Uribe told the press at the Ibero-American summit that “actions against the guerrillas will continue irrespective of their meetings with senator Cordoba”.
The governments and FARC are being sketchy about the details of the humanitarian accord and the ongoing negotiations in order to give themselves room to negotiate, obviously. But it could happen…