- The story surfaced in March 2008 after Colombia's military,
with US Special Forces help, attacked a FARC-EP rebel camp in Ecuador.
Over 20 people were killed, including 16 or more FARC-EP members while
they slept. Key among them was Paul Reyes, the FARC-EP's second-in-command,
their peace negotiator, public voice, and lead figure in the Chavez-led
hostage negotiations with Colombia at the time.
- Tensions rose when Colombian Vice President Francisco
Santos Calderon said three laptops and other materials were found at the
FARC-EP camp. Containing provocative evidence, he said, it showed a Chavez/Ecuadorean
President Raphael Correa link to FARC-EP rebels, including Venezuela providing
them weapons, munitions, and about $300 million.
- Moreover, they were accused of acquiring 50 kilograms
(110 pounds) of uranium, allegedly for a radioactive dirty bomb, as well
as selling 700 kilograms of cocaine for about $1.5 million.
- The story, in fact, lacked credibility, but major media
reports featured it, grabbing any chance they can to bash Chavez. For example,
on March 30, 2008, New York Times writer Simon Romero headlined, "Files
Suggest Venezuela Bid to Aid Colombian Rebels," saying:
- Captured computer files "appear to tie Venezuela's
government to efforts to secure arms for Colombia's largest insurgency....which
the United States says is a terrorist group...."
- Established in 1964, it's the "longest standing,
largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world," struggling
valiantly to liberate Colombia from decades of repressive rule, according
to noted Latin American expert James Petras.
- Nonetheless, a follow-up May 16, 2008 Romero article
headlined, "Files Tying Venezuela to Rebels Not Altered, Report Says,"
- Interpol forensic experts "found no signs that Colombia
had altered files from" recovered computer documents.
- Releasing their analysis on May 15, they said:
- Secretary General Ronald Noble "advised senior Colombian
law enforcement officials that INTERPOL's team of forensic experts discovered
'no evidence of modification, alteration, addition or deletion' in the
user files of any of the three laptop computers, three USB thumb drives
and two external hard disks seized during a Colombian anti-narcotics and
anti-terrorist operation on a FARC camp on 1 March 2008."
- However, Interpol also explained that lacking evidence
doesn't prove no tampering. In fact, some files had future date stamps
and other data alteration indications, casting doubts on the material's
- Specifically, its experts said:
- "between 1 and 3 March, direct access to the seized
computer exhibits....did not follow internationally recognized principles
in the handling of electronic evidence under ordinary circumstance."
- Moreover, other evidence was contradictory, Interpol,
- "Direct access may complicate validating this evidence
for purposes of its introduction in a judicial proceeding because law enforcement
is then required to demonstrate or prove that the direct access did not
have a material impact on the purpose for which the evidence is intended."
- In other words, claimed evidence was likely fake. Independent
computer experts were also troubled, believing any time proper data handling
procedures aren't followed, reliability is seriously jeopardized. With
care, forensic specialists or computer professionals can add, delete or
alter hard drive material without leaving a footprint.
- Dominant media reports ignored this and more, including
Interpol's statement that:
- its experts didn't "evaluate the accuracy or the
source of the exhibits' content." How could they? The volume was enormous,
the equivalent of "39.5 million pages in Microsoft Word...."
At the rate of 100 pages a day, "it would take more than 1,000 years
to read" it.
- That alone begs the question. In a few days or even weeks,
how were Colombian authorities able to analyze and discover provocative
information, a consideration ignored in major media reports, as well as
the entire truth.
- FARC-EP/Venezuelan Connection Round Two
- Failing to make a credible case earlier, the alleged
FARC-EP/Venezuala link resurfaced. On May 10, 2011, Romero headlined, "Venezuela
Asked Colombian Rebels to Kill Opposition Figures, Analysis Shows,"
- They have "an intricate history of collaboration
with Venezuela officials, who have asked it to provide urban guerrilla
training to pro-government cells here and to assassinate political opponents
of Venezuela's president, according to a new analysis...."
- A new analysis? Based on likely falsified information,
Romero omitted that consideration from his report. Perhaps, however, it
got him to say "no evidence (linked Chavez to) the assassination requests....(if)
they were ever carried out," or if, in fact, they ever existed.
- Featuring a same day story, the BBC headlined, "Colombian
Farc rebels' links to Venezuela detailed," saying:
- "Mr. Chavez let the Farc use Venezuelan territory
but also moved against them when it suited him," a new report says.
- Venezuela's UK embassy called it a "Latin America
dodgy dossier," referring to Britain's 2003 briefing paper, alleging
Saddam Hussein had WMDs, a charge now totally discredited.
- The London-based International Institute for Strategic
Studies (IISS) produced the cited report titled, "THE FARC FILES:
Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of Raul Reyes," saying:
- An evaluation of likely altered computer disk information
"belonging to Luis Edgar Devia Silva (aka Raul Reyes), head of FARC's
International Committee (COMINTER), (show) how FARC evolved from a small
autarkic and strategically irrelevant group into an insurgent movement
(linked to) Venezuela and Ecuador."
- As a result, claims IISS, it's been able to:
- -- "obtain weaponry, such as man-portable air-defence
systems (MANPADS), to alter the military balance in Colombia;
- -- achieve political recognition and formal status as
- -- impose its own narrative internationally at the expense
of the Colombian government;
- -- damage Colombia's relations with neighboring states;
- -- and use its (Venezuelan and Ecuadorean) border enclaves
to deal with a range of actors out of reach of Colombian security forces."
- As a result of its strategic relationship with Venezuela
and Ecuador, it "pose(s) a threat to the stability of Colombia and
the Andean region."
- IISS omitted important context from its report about
America's closest South American ally. In fact, Colombia is a corrupted
narco-state, a repressive death squad nation, threatening regional neighbors,
as well as reigning terror against trade unionists, human rights workers,
campesinos, pro-democracy organizations, independent journalists, and legitimate
resistance groups like FARC-EP.
- Moreover, since 1999, Washington provided the Pastrana,
Uribe, and Santos governments billions of dollars in aid to:
- -- permit Pentagon bases;
- -- fund US weapons purchases;
- -- bankroll Colombia's military;
- -- train its soldiers at the School of the Americas (SOA),
now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC);
- -- topple FARC-EP and ELN resistance groups;
- -- destabilize Venezuela, Ecuador and regional populist
- -- create business opportunities for US corporations;
- -- control Colombia's resources, including oil, gas,
coal, iron ore, nickel, copper, gold, silver, emeralds, and more;
- -- promote drugs trafficking in government-controlled
areas, as well as eradication in rebel-held territories; and
- -- solidify Washington-enforced neoliberal militarized
- By any standard, Colombia is lawless and brutish, yet
IISS and major media reports vilify FARC-EP resistance fighters and regional
democrats, whether or not sympathetic.
- The unlikely validity of alleged computer tapes aside,
honest reporting would explain the corrupted Washington - Bogota alliance,
supporting militarized extremism, international drugs trafficking, and
vast human misery, affecting millions of impoverished, displaced, and oppressed
Colombians. Resistance struggling to end it deserves praise, not condemnation.
- Instead, corporate-funded think tanks and major media
reports support everything smelling power and money, no matter how many
bodies pile up for more of them.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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