Forwarded from Anthony (Venezuela and Colombia)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Apr 16 06:57:40 MDT 2002

Colombia and Venezuela: Gran Colombia

While all eyes have been turned towards Venezuela, things have not stopped
moving here in Colombia.

As Hugo Chaves was returning to power, Alvaro Uribe Velez was nearly being
killed as a bomb blew up in front of his armored four wheel drive.

The government says the FARC was probably responsible. A few days earlier,
on the anniversary of the Bogotazo,  bombs blew up in a neighborhood about
15 blocks from the Presidential palace, while gas cylinders filled with
explosives were found only a few blocks from the palace. A few days earlier
a car bomb blew up in 'La zona Rosa' of Villavicencio, killing several and
injuring many of the mostly petty bourgeois people hanging out in the bars
and clubs there. There have been numerous attacks on electricity towers,
and aqueducts - but without major impact.

The police and army have been raiding the homes of hundreds, possibly
thousands, of people throughout Colombia. It is impossible to know how many
because the press does not usually report them. The Communist Party seem to
be one of the main targets of the raids.

CP leaders are recieving streams of death threats - and the two most
prominent ones have left the country.

After the attack on Uribe Velez, three other candidates - Serpa, Sanin, and
Garzon have called for government guarantees for public electionerring -
speechs, etc. Most of the campaign events of all candidates are being
cancelled. The government has offered more TV time.

Meanwhile, the government is arresting numerous local elecvtoral officials
for participating in what appears to be massive electoral fraud in the
March congressional elections.

And, during the one day Presidency of Sr. Carmona in Venezuela, three of
the most important Ministers in Pastrana's government warmly and publicly
welcomed the anti-democratic coup against Chavez. When their solidarity
with the coup was criticized sharply by the Venezuelan ambassador here, the
government issued a formal diplomatic complaint - in what seems likely to
be a spiraling conflict between the two countries.

Plan B?

Apparently Chaves is being conciliatory, backing down on the reorganization
of PdVsa, and being very soft on the military conspirators against him.
Maybe he is just buying time so that he can get all of his ducks lined up.
Maybe he thinks he really can make a deal with the 'institutionalists' who
are the center faction of the military.

I watched him give a long press conference yesterday on Venezuelan TV.

One thing that people here remark on - whether they like him or not - is
that the guy's personal bravery was one of the elements in defeating the
coup. His refusal to resign - even though he was imprisoned and his life
was uncertain - which was faxed to the world by a young woman soldier, is
being repeated all over this town.

All the best, Anthony

Louis Proyect
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