Hugo Chavez is taking full advantage of the death of FARC leader Luis Edgar Devia Silva (aka Raul Reyes) to distract Venezuelans from their crumbling economy. This morning Venezuelan defense minister Gustavo Rangel announced his country was sending 10 battalions of troops to the Colombian border and on Tuesday night Venezuelan state television broadcast images of tanks heading to the border.
Chavez has long lionized the cocaine trafficking and kidnapping FARC as “an insurgency born out of efforts to combat Colombia’s moneyed elite.” On television Sunday night Chavez called for a minute of silence to honor Reyes. Chavez is determined to use his connections to FARC to portray himself as a leftist hero against U.S. imperialism. Referring to his country’s troop build up Rangel said today, “It is not against the people of Colombia, but rather the expansionist designs of the empire.”
This Chavez fueled crisis is an opportunity for the Organization for American States (OAS) to play a stronger role and establish itself as a force for peace in the hemisphere. Early reports indicate the OAS may be up to the task as late last night diplomats discussed forming a commission to investigate the Colombian attack that killed Reyes on Saturday. Congress could significantly help the situation by confirming the U.S. ambassador to the OAS.