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Monday, Jan 3, 2011, 11:08 am

Psst, Peace

By Pete Karman
"President Chavez [of Venezuela] is my new best friend."
—President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia


We occasionally hear scoops about secret wars, like the ones Washington is currently running from the Philippines to the Horn of Africa. But how often do we hear about something even more threatening to our empire: secret peace?

One just broke out in Latin America that must have Obama and Hillary gnashing their teeth. Colombia and Venezuela, historically one country but lately at each other’s throat, have kissed and made up. That’s been big news south of the border but remains all but classified in the U.S. because it’s bad news for Washington’s never-ending divide and conquer plans for the region. What’s more, it jars the propaganda assumptions of the media.

Colombia, which specializes in cocaine and conservative regimes, has long been Washington’s favorite in Latin America. It’s reputation on the continent is that of a “death squad democracy,” where political campaigns feature rightists gunning down leftists. This has occasioned surviving leftists to take up guerrilla war against the state and support themselves by coca dealing. Their 60 year insurgency has given Washington an ongoing opportunity to lavish billions on favored contractors and mercenaries by “aiding” and “advising” the Colombian military’s battle against blow and bolsheviki.

Colombia was also supposed to come in handy as a forward base in Washington’s continuing scheming to overthrow the leftist government that the neighboring Venezuelans have disobediently dared to elect and reelect. Obama pressed the Colombians to give over seven more bases to the Pentagon, with their personnel exempt from local law. In other words, Americans could “tune up” or “take out” any Colombians, not to mention Venezuelans, at their whim.

Under increased threat, Venezuela brought up troops to the border. It also broke diplomatic relations with Colombia and, more importantly, cut off billions in trade. Meanwhile, the Colombian supreme court declared the base deal unconstitutional, while the country elected a new president who, unlike his predecessor, paid more attention to the howls of businesses going broke because of the trade rupture than to the stratagems of the Pentagon and CIA.

Diplomats on both sides of the border went to work. Relations were reestablished, the trade ban lifted, and agreements were forged on a host of mutual issues. President Chavez of Venezuela and new President Santos of Colombia had a couple of friendly meetings. The talk turned from war to peace. And Santos even proclaimed Chavez his "new best friend."

Colombia is still right and Venezuela still left. But most importantly both are still offspring of Bolivar. Right and left, they have come to understand that they have more to gain by being good neighbors to each other than by beating each other up at the service of the expiring imperio yanqui.

Originally posted at The Karman Turn.

Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.

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