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Obama Obfuscates on Chavez & FARC

By Jack Kelly

Should Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez be engaged? Or isolated? Presidential candidates debated this question in Florida last week.

Make that a presidential candidate debated this with himself in Florida last week. Sen. Barack Obama took both positions on successive days.

Mr. Obama told Walter Pacheco of the Orlando Sentinel last Thursday he'd personally meet with Mr. Chavez:
"One of the obvious high priorities in my talks with President Hugo Chavez would be the fermentation of anti-American sentiment in Latin America, his support of (Marxist narco-terrorists) FARC in Colombia, and other issues he would want to talk about," Sen. Obama said then. "It is important to understand that ignoring these countries has not led to improved behavior on their part and it has not served our national security interests."
But in a speech in Miami the very next day, Mr. Obama said any Latin American government that supports FARC (the Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) should be isolated.

"We will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments," Mr. Obama told the Cuban American National Foundation. "This behavior must be exposed to international condemnation, regional isolation, and -- if need be -- strong sanctions. It must not stand."

ABC's Jake Tapper was confused. "So he will meet with the leader of a country he simultaneously says should be isolated? Huh?"

Mr. Tapper noticed another apparent contradiction. In his interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Sen. Obama said flatly that Hugo Chavez was supporting FARC. But in an interview the next day with Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald, he equivocated:

"We have to hold Venezuela accountable if, in fact, it is trying to ferment terrorist activities in other borders," Mr. Obama said. "If Venezuela has violated those rules, we should mobilize all the countries to sanction Venezuela and let them know that that's not acceptable behavior."

When Mr. Tapper called this apparent contradiction to his attention, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Obama told him the senator does indeed believe that Hugo Chavez supports FARC.

That's good, because the evidence is incontrovertible. Colombian authorities captured March 1st the laptop computer of FARC leader of Raul Reyes, now deceased. On it were 37,872 files, many of them making clear active support of the guerrilla group by Mr. Chavez and by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, including a pledge of $300 million from Mr. Chavez to FARC.

"Internal FARC correspondence shows Chavez acted as a middleman for weapons provisions, including surface-to-air missiles, grenade launchers, and ammo, and offered the use of a Venezuelan port to smuggle weapons from abroad," noted Investors' Business Daily.

Interpol examined the captured computer and found the files to be genuine.

"We're absolutely certain that the computer exhibits that our experts examined came from a FARC terrorist camp," said Interpol's secretary general, Ronald K. Noble, at a press conference May 15.

It's nice that Sen. Obama is on the side of the facts on this occasion. This is not always the case. In his speech Friday, he implied Mr. Chavez came to power as a reaction to President Bush.

"Since the Bush administration launched a misguided war in Iraq, it's policies in the Americas have been negligent toward our friends, ineffective with our adversaries, disinterested in the challenges that matter in peoples' lives, and incapable of advancing our interests in the region," Sen. Obama said. "No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum."

Hugo Chavez assumed power in Venezuela in 1998. President Bush wasn't elected until 2000. Sen. Obama should be careful about who he accuses of having been "negligent toward our friends," and "ineffective with our adversaries," because it isn't only Hugo Chavez who should be embarrassed by what was found on Raul Reyes' computer.

In a letter written just a couple of days before his death, the FARC chieftain told his inner circle he'd met with "two gringos" who told him Sen. Obama would be the next president, and that if elected, he'd cut off military aid to the Colombian government, and oppose the Free Trade Agreement with our ally.

Our enemies think Sen. Obama would be the best friend they've ever had in the White House. It's not hard to see why.

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