President Hugo Chavez emerged from the day-long Unasur summit in Bariloche in full-spin mode.
The summit fulfilled everyone’s expectations, Chavez told reporters clustering around him. Everyone had “a space to say what each wished to say.”
Chavez described the meeting as a “great step which opens the gates of understanding, unity and peace, because we do not want war.”
Here’s the truth about Bariloche: President Chavez got his Bolivarian butt handed to him on a silver platter.
Chavez traveled to Bariloche with plans to pick a fight with President Alvaro Uribe Velez.
Chavez thought he could rally Unasur’s other members to join his crazed crusade against the United States and Colombia.
Instead, Chavez made an ass of himself, quoting from an alleged secret US military intelligence document which – said the great Bolivarian warlord – outlined an imperialist gringo scheme to invade South America and steal its natural resources, including Venezuela’s oil and gas reserves.
The document in question was an unclassified white paper available to the general public at National Defense University’s web site.
Even better, the final document approved by Unasur’s heads of state does not condemn the Colombia-US base rights agreement.
Instead, Unasur’s final document put a big leash on Chavez, at least on paper.
The agreement commits Unasur’s members to six points:
“1. Strengthen South America as a zone of peace, with all parties committing to establishing a mechanism of mutual trust in matters of defense and security, sustaining our decision to abstain from recurring to threats or the use of force against the territorial integrity of another Unasur state.”
CG comment: In principle, the agreement prohibits any Unasur member from threatening violence against another Unasur member. The only Unasur president who consistently threatens other states with violence is Chavez. Over the past 18 months Chavez has threatened to deploy troops to Bolivia and Honduras, and start a war with Colombia over the air strike which killed FARC’s No. 2 chieftain Raul Reyes in northern Ecuador. Can Chavez keep his bullyboy mouth shut in the future? Doubtful.
“2. Reaffirm our commitment to strengthen the struggle and cooperation against terrorism and transnational organized crime and its related crimes: drug trafficking, small and light arms smuggling, and rejecting the presence and action of armed groups at the margin of the law.”
CG Comment: The agreement doesn’t mention the FARC, but the intent is clear. The presence and action of armed groups outside the law is rejected. On paper at least, this puts Chavez in a bind with respect to his 16-year-old strategic and political alliance with the FARC. The public record of the Chavez regime’s active cooperation with the FARC is extensive and well-documented. If Chavez continues his support for the FARC, he risks isolating himself within Unasur.
“3. Reaffirm that the presence of foreign military forces cannot, with their means and resources linked to their own objectives, threaten the sovereignty and integrity of any South American state and in consequence the peace and security of the region.”
CG Comment: The agreement does not ban or condemn the presence of foreign military forces in South America. Moreover, it can be inferred between the lines as saying that South America’s democracies must develop effective mechanisms for regional security cooperation that would make it unnecessary for any Unasur member to negotiate security agreements with the US or any foreign power outside South America to fight drug trafficking and terrorism.
“4. Instruct (Unasur’s) Foreign and Defense Ministers to hold an extraordinary meeting during the first half of September, to design in the interests of greater transparency mechanisms to foment trust and security in a way complementary to the instruments existing within the OAS, including concrete implementation mechanisms and guarantees for all of countries applicable to existing agreements with countries of the region and extra-regionals (i.e. outside South America); and also with respect to illegal arms trafficking, drug trafficking and terrorism in conformity with the legislation of each country. These mechanisms must contemplate the principles of strict respect for the sovereignty, integrity and territorial safety of (of the Unasur countries) and non-interference in the internal affairs of the States.”
CG Comment: A convoluted text which, summarized, basically instructs Unasur’s chief diplomats and military commanders to design effective regional security cooperation mechanisms to fight the drug traffickers, transnational crime groups and armed militant groups (like the FARC) which operated with great freedom in the region. One way of saying it is: time to fish or cut bait. Time for Unasur’s members to grow up and actually do something regionally beside the bla-bla-but-do-nothing which is habitually practiced by this group (with the exception of Colombia).
“5. Instruct the South American Defense Council to analyze the text ‘South American Strategy. White Paper. Air Mobile Command,’ and verify the situation o the frontiers and raise the resulting studies to the Council of Heads of State to considering actions to be followed.”
CG Comment: This is a funny (i.e. comical) concession to Chavez, who tried to make a big deal about an unclassified research paper anyone can download at NDU’s website. No doubt Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro will talk a lot of compost at the meeting in September, but the conclusion is obvious. Anyone with access to the Internet can Google literally dozens of white papers – and the ones relating to Latin America certainly will focus on fighting drugs and terrorism and humanitarian missions. But there won’t be anything about US military invasion plans because such plans do not exist. US national security and defense planners don’t see any threats to the US anywhere in Latin America.
“6. Instruct the South American Council Against Drug Trafficking to urgently draft its statutes and a plan of action with the aim of defining a South American strategy to battle illicit drug trafficking and strengthen cooperation between the specialized organisms of our countries.”
CG Comment: Finally, it appears South America’s governments will try to find ways of working together to fight the drugs, terrorism and transnational crime groups in the region. It’s about time, in fact, it’s long overdue. But it’s doubtful the initiative will prosper. The last thing the Chavez regime wants is for other South American powers to see first-hand the direct involvement of senior Venezuelan government and security officials in the drug trade controlled by the FARC.
After viewing the almost seven hours of redundant discussions televised from Bariloche, a few conclusions are possible:
*Colombian President Uribe Velez once again gave his South American colleagues a masterful lesson in public diplomacy and statesmanship. Uribe repeatedly made Chavez look like the fool he is.
*Chavez’s Bolivarian bull manure is wearing very thin in the region. Even putative allies like Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales couldn’t hide their boredom as Chavez rambled on rhetorically without making much sense.
*The televised Unasur discussion showed that the group lacks depth, vision and ideas. In fairness, Peru’s President Alan Garcia and Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet did stress the need for Unasur to acquire institutional strength and credibility. But it’s difficult to soar like a Condor when one is surrounded by turkeys like Chavez, Correa and Morales.
*The radical revolutionaries in the group bashed the hapless gringo imperialists mightily throughout the day, but in the end all they managed was to look silly.
Chavez and Correa lied repeatedly throughout the discussions, denying their governments cooperate with the FARC when the public record clearly shows that Chavez and Correa are in cahoots with the Colombian narco-terrorist group.
“Mountains of lies,” Chavez wailed, though Chavez lies so often he likely has trouble differentiating between the facts around him and the fiction boiling in his feverish Bolivarian brain.
Correa described himself repeatedly as an academic. But one of the summit’s funniest moments came when he asked someone to interpret what “mobility” means in a military context, and Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner explained it to him.
Morales came across as a whiney, pathetic pendejo digging up centuries-old resentments.
This trio reminded CG of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for beginners, where the tendency amongst the newbies is always to blame on everyone else their own failures and deficiencies.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was visibly grumpy before the day was half over in Bariloche, complaining that televising the summit was not a good idea because it prevented attendees from saying what they really thought.
But Lula is mistaken. Televising Unasur’s Bariloche summit was a great idea, because it showed South American voters, and the rest of the world, that Unasur is light on substance and heavy on the diplomatic equivalent of flatulence.
And the loudest rhetorical flatulence, of course, was provided by Chavez.
If Simon Bolivar were still alive today, his face would be red with embarrassment at the mediocre performance of Venezuela’s president.