Mono Jojoy’s overdue but timely demise surely gives President Hugo Chavez much to think about.
The association between Chavez and the FARC goes back at least 17 years.
Chavez was very circumspect about his personal contacts with the FARC until he became president in 1999. One of the first orders that Chavez issued upon assuming the presidency was to the army’s forces on the border.
Chavez changed the rules of engagement on the border, ordering the army to stand down whenever armed irregulars (FARC or ELN) were encountered in Venezuelan territory.
Army General Nestor Gonzalez Gonzalez had a lot to say about that in writing in 2000-2001, and in public testimony to the National Assembly after the violence of April 2002.
Chavez let the FARC deploy into Venezuelan territory after Colombia’s then-President Andres Pastrana admitted that his peace initiative had failed and shut down the FARC-controlled DMZ in February 2002. But by then the FARC had grown in size to almost 20,000 fighters.
The FARC’s largest operational presence in Venezuela today is concentrated in the states of Apure and Zulia. But the FARC’s presence extends all the way to Caracas – even Miraflores where President Chavez hosted Ivan Marquez back in 2007.
Chavez – aka “Angel” in documents extracted from a computer captured alongside the corpse of FARC’s No. 2 leader Raul Reyes in March 2008 – is on record in those documents as offering the FARC up to $300 million to aid the narco-terrorist group’s revolutionary cause.
Chavez also offered the FARC the possibility of a Venezuelan crude oil production concession. The mechanics of the proposal apparently were never worked out. But imagine a Pdvsa-FARC oil production joint venture. Petroleum and cocaine.
When a Colombian air strike killed the FARC’s Raul Reyes in northern Ecuador in March 2008, Chavez went into a hysterical rage.
Chavez threatened a war against Colombia, ordered Bolivarian Army troops and tanks to the border, decried Colombia’s “invasion” of Ecuador, and observed a “minute of silence” for Reyes, a homicidal criminal scumbag, drug trafficker and terrorist.
But the killing of Mono Jojoy last week, a hugely more significant event than Reyes’ killing in 2008, elicited barely a peep from Fidel’s anointed heir in Miraflores cave.
It’s not good to celebrate anyone’s death and let’s all hope that Colombia follows the road of peace, said the president who less than two weeks ago was making dark threats about leading a “peaceful revolution, but one that is armed.”
One obvious reason for Chavez’s lowkey response after Mono Jojoy’s killing is that it happened in Colombia, while Reyes was killed in Ecuador, as a reader noted. Reyes’ killing was a cross-border incursion for which Alvaro Uribe Velez later apologized.
Yet Chavez must be weighing the political implications of Mono Jojoy’s killing. President Juan Manuel Santos was defense minister for former President Alvaro Uribe Velez when Raul Reyes was killed in northern Ecuador. Now President Santos has scored a much bigger victory against the FARC.
Mono Jojoy, a member of the FARC’s seven-person directorate since 1993 and the child of a peasant who cooked decades ago for FARC co-founder and chief ideologist Jacobo Arenas, was the FARC’s supreme warlord for 17 years. Mono Jojoy also was a kween supporter of the FARC’s association with the Chavez regime.
This could imply very bad news for President Chavez, particularly since the Colombian troops and police that attacked Mono Jojoy’s camp reportedly captured up to 15 computers, several dozen pendrives and some computer hard drives. Who knows what intelligence gems the Colombian forensic IT experts will find on all this hardware?
But after Reyes’ death in March 2008 Mono Jojoy assumed the FARC’s No. 2 spot, with supreme command going to Alfonso Cano after Manuel “Tirojijo” Marulanda died of natural causes. Colombian intelligence officials say that Mono Jojoy micro-managed the FARC’s business and other affairs obsessively, looking after even the smallest details.
Over the past year the Chavez regime’s associations with the FARC, ELN, ETA’s Basque separatists, various Islamist militant groups and other unsavory types has received a great deal of attention. Just before he left the presidency in August, former President Alvaro Uribe Velez accused Chavez at the OAS of harboring FARC terrorists in Venezuelan territory. Chavez immediately broke diplomatic relations and did his usual wounded victim’s dance.
Santos assumed the presidency and calmed the ruffled waters at Simon Bolivar’s last home in Santa Marta, Colombia. Relations were restored. All seemed to be calming, and then Santos gave the order to kill Mono Jojoy just as the United Nations General Assembly was starting its annual schtick in Manhattan. Perhaps the sequence of events was coincidental, but Santos scored a clean kill in all respects.
Santos made Uribe’s nationals ecurity doctrine his own. It can’t be said that Santos is an Uribe clone or that he jilted the former president. Santos continued/intensified Uribe’s security policies, whacked the monkey, and hugely elevated his standing in Washington, D.C. The FARC’s Alfonso Cano is now at the top of the Colombian army’s kill list.
Senior FARC chieftains Timochenko (Soviet/East German trained, reportedly) and Ivan Marquez are believed to be hiding in Apure and Zulia, respectively. Over 1,500 FARC fighters also are believed to be in Venezuela, or at elast they were in Venezuela of last August when Uribe Velez essentially accused the Chavez regime of harboring FARC terrorists.
As Chavez thinks about Mono Jojoy’s dying of crushing asphyxiation (reportedly the official cause of death) after seven tons of bombs collapsed the FARC leader’s underground bunker, he might be wondering if Santos someday might order similar precision strikes against El Comandante’s FARC associates in Apure and Zulia.
Or perhaps Chavez is wondering how his Russian-equipped Bolivarian army, which is fine at marching in parades, would fare in a firefight vs the demonstrated combat effectiveness of Colombia’s armed forces. More about the tactics of the attack that kileld Mono Jojoy in my next post.