Friday, January 18, 2008

Craziness down South

Terrorism is defined many ways but it can be reduced to this: attacking civilians for political gains. The difference between terrorism and insurgency (or political opposition) is that the terrorist, unlike the opposer, will mercilessly and purposely attack (kill, harm) civilians in order to coerce the government into their position while the opposer generally will only attack military or political targets.

It is based on that general definition of terrorism that groups like FARC, ELN and Senderos Luminosos have always been labeled as terrorisms by their governments - they kidnap and kill civilians in order to coerce their governments to give them what they want. They create a state of terror in which people are always expectant, always afraid that they will be next.

In the early years some of these groups where protectors of traffickers - so they were "criminals" by definition. Until they got power hungry and greedy.

Last week Chavez had called for these groups to be recognized as political insurgents or opposition groups; yesterday his assembly approved recognition of these groups in Venezuela as political opposers. (sorry only in Spanish so far)

This could spell a lot of political trouble for Chavez and his views of LatinAmerican domination. His relationship with Colombia is on the brink of rupture; and many of the governments of the region distanced themselves from Chavez's comments. But what does this mean?

Recognizing these groups as political insurgents and not terrorists gives the groups more power ideologically and probably supplies a safe haven for them in Venezuela. If Chavez thinks that by doing this he'll earn their support he is sadly mistaken. These groups would just as well take over Venezuela too.

I think this is one decision that both Chavez and his assembly will regret. It will cost him dearly in the region and even worse - it could cost him dearly at home.

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