Venezuela President Hugo Chavez continued his ongoing campaign to undermine the democratic government of Colombia by securing the release of three more hostages from the terrorist group FARC this weekend. Chavez had surprised leaders world wide last month when he proclaimed that Venezuela now recognizes FARC as a legitimate political actor, and more recently Chavez has amassed 1,200 troops on the Colombian border in an effort to enforce price controls on daily necessities like milk, rice, and sugar.
Chavez has increased his foreign policy provocations since Venezuelans narrowly rejected his package of constitutional reforms that would have essentially granted him indefinite tenure in office. Chavez increasingly needs headlines from overseas to distract from the rampant inflation in Venezuela and the failure of his price control measures. Reviving the myth of Simon Bolivar’s Gran Colombia has long been a fixation of Chavez’, and Colombia’s democratic government stands in the way of that dream.
The left in America is playing into to Chavez’ hands by attempting to reject free trade with Colombia. With a rejection of the trade deal, Chavez can portray the US as a fickle trade partner only concerned with our own domestic interests. Congress should deny Chavez this victory and approve the Colombia trade pact.