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There's one in every neighborhood

Hugo Chavez has dubbed Colombia the ‘Israel of Latin America‘ after Colombian militants crossed into Ecuador and assassinated a long-standing Farc leader (Raul Reyes) and his group. Eighteen people were killed, most of them in their pajamas, and some were shot in the back disproving the Columbian assertion of hot pursuit and self-defense. Chavez ordered tanks and troops to the border, as did Ecuador, though it’s not clear that anything will actually happen. His remark, however, did not escape Israel’s notice.

Chavez, who has friendly diplomatic ties with Syria and Iran, said last year during a visit to Damascus that his goal was to “build a new world” free of U.S. domination.

Israel is considering downgrading its relations with Venezuela in light of the extremist anti-Israel line taken by the country’s government under President Hugo Chavez.

Israel is concerned about the growing alliance between Chavez and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A highly-placed source in Jerusalem says only preliminary talks have been held on the issue and no decision has been made.

John McCain jumped right in though, even before the US government has officially ‘reacted’ to the situation.

Washington - Senator John McCain, the Republican Party’s likely presidential nominee, Monday called for Venezuela and Ecuador to remove their troops from the Colombian border. McCain called the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), whose second-in-command was killed by Colombian military forces who crossed over into Ecuador on Saturday, one of the world’s “premier terrorist organizations” which has been kidnapping, murdering and promoting the drug trade for decades.

Venezuela and Ecuador have moved troops to the Colombian border to protest the killing. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has negotiated the release of a handful of the hundreds of hostages being held by FARC for years, and wants FARC to be given political legitimacy. McCain called Colombia a “vital ally” who has been working with the US to stem the flow of illegal drugs northwards into the US. “I want to reiterate our partnership and friendship with President Uribe and the government of Colombia,” McCain said. “I hope the tensions will be relaxed and that President Chavez will remove his troops from the border, as well as the Ecuadorians.” The US government had not yet officially reacted to the situation.

Here’s some background, as I profess relative ignorance about Latin American politics and the drug trade. However, I do know that the war on drugs is a big phony fake ruse run by ‘law enforcement’, designed to and successfully generating a tremendous underground economy, which makes many corrupt people filthy rich and which reliably sends many poor people to jails and ruins communities. The jails were built to house these manufactured ‘criminals’, and the jails themselves make many more corrupt people filthy rich. So the whole thing is basically a big black ops shakedown that grinds people into the dirt. But other than that, I don’t follow it. All I can say is that seeing John McCain rush in is a red flag to pay attention.

According to the Ecuadorean president, Rafael Correa, the bodies of the Farc commanders and 13 guerrillas were recovered in their pyjamas after being bombed while sleeping in a tent on the Ecuadorean side of the frontier. The Colombian air force, Correa claimed, had used advanced technology “with the collaboration of foreign powers” to locate the camp and “to massacre” its occupants. Uribe’s government is a close ally of the United States and of Israel, whereas Correa belongs to the radical camp led by Chávez. Subsequent to the bombing, Colombian troops crossed the frontier into Ecuador to recover the bodies.

Ever since 9/11, the United States has requested the Colombian government to refer to the Farc as a “terrorist” organisation, a word also now used by the European Union. Yet the Colombian guerrillas are the most long-lasting of all such movements in Latin America, long pre-dating the current obsession with “terrorism”. Their leader, Manuel Marulanda, first led the Farc in the early 1960s and has survived into the 21st century, while Raúl Reyes had run the organisation’s political wing for many years. A well-known negotiator and promoter of the Farc’s cause in meetings in Europe and Latin America, Reyes was a crucial collaborator in the recent efforts by the Venezuelan president and the Colombian senator, Piedad Córdoba, to release some of the Colombian hostages.

The Farc has witnessed many changes over the past 40 years, but none of them has affected its ability to survive. One change has been the increasing production in Colombia of the raw material for cocaine and heroin, fuelling the drug markets of the United States and Europe, that was once grown in Bolivia and Peru. Land in Colombia devoted to growing cannabis, coca and poppies has grown fivefold since the 1960s, and the Farc has long provided protection to the rural workers on these plantations, as well as exacting tribute from the drug barons.

Another change has been the growth of paramilitary organisations, first sponsored by the drug barons and then by the state, that have revived the pattern of civil war that has been a particular Colombian phenomenon since the 19th century. Coupled with the growth of the paramilitaries has been the US-designed Plan Colombia, a military aid package first agreed with President Clinton in 1999, that has made Colombia the fifth largest recipient of US aid in the world.

A third change has been the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the corresponding loss of influence of the Colombian Communist Party, once the principal political backer of the Farc. The death in 1990 of Jacobo Arenas, the talented Communist leader, left Marulanda and Reyes as the Farc’s sole commanders.

The players continue to line up at the line of scrimmage. US, UK, Israel, Germany, France vs Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, Russia. Am I forgetting anyone important? Check out the ring of fire.