There was a lot of talk about the ‘Border Crisis in Latin America’ on the Brazilian blogosphere in the last few days. Brazilian people suffer from an endemic form of ‘know-it-all syndrom’ and, thus, many of us were talking — a lot — and taking sides about the impending conflict.
Fortunately the whole issue came, apparently, to a reasonable solution. But many of us, know-it-all as we are, think that's not the whole point. Some say that Chavez should be expelled or ‘neutralized’ somehow for being ‘dangerous’ to the peace on Latin America. Others say that the US and Uribe, their Colombian host, are the real villains of the Latin soap opera. Among the radical speeches and the media echoing, we could find some very reasonable voices in the Brazilian blogosphere shedding some welcome light on the entire matter.
Andre Deak blogs about an article he wrote to Agência Brasil[PT] back in 2006, about the US military bases at Ecuador and Colombia, titled “Geopolitics of the Siege”, and makes some considerations[PT]…:
“A maior base norte-americana na América Latina, a base de Manta, fica no país governado por Rafael Correa. Presidente que publicamente é contra a política dos EUA para a região, e disse que não renovará o acordo para manter essa base.”
“The biggest North-American military base in Latin America, the Manta base, stands in the country ruled by Rafael Correa. The president that publicly stood against the US policy for the region, and declared that he will not renew the treaty to keep that base.”
… and quotations in his blog post about the conflict and it's unspoken background:
” ‘A partir de 2002, Colin Powell garantiu uma verba adicional de 731 milhões de dólares para financiar a participação do Equador, Bolívia e Peru no Plano Colômbia. O papel do Equador era central, principalmente porque os Estados Unidos utilizavam a estrutura da Base de Manta, com capacidade de controlar o espaço aéreo da região Amazônica, do Canal do Panamá e da América Central. A eleição do presidente Rafael Correa interrompeu o apoio do Equador ao Plano Colômbia, já que uma de suas principais medidas foi anunciar que não renovaria o acordo com os Estados Unidos para o controle da Base de Manta’, conta Maria Luisa Mendonça.
Outra leitura interessante vem do Beto Almeida, no texto Colômbia: Israel sul-americano?: o assassinato de ‘Raul Reyes, conhecido por sua característica de exímio negociador político, também deve ser entendido como um alerta ao governo de Sarkosy para que não se meta em negociações que contrariem a linha estadunidense de militarização da região amazônica’.”
” ‘Since 2002, Colin Powell has guaranteed an additional funding of 731 million US Dollars to pay for the participation of Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru on the Plan Colombia. Ecuador played a central role, mainly because the United States used the resources of the Manta Base, capable of controling the entire Amazon, Panama channel and the Central America's airspace. The election of the president Rafael Correa interrupted the Ecuador support to the Plan Colombia, once one of [the president's] first measures was to announce that the treaty that gave to the US the control of Manta Base was not to be renewed’, says Maria Luisa Mendonça. […] Another interesting view [on the situation] comes from Beto Almeida, in his text Colombia: South-American Israel?: ‘the murder of Raul Reyes, known for his caracteristic of being a great political negotiator, may be understood as an alert to the Sarkozy government, that it shouldn't meddle with negotiations that are contrary to the US line of action of militarizing the Amazon region’.”
“Insisto: enquanto não pusermos sobre a mesa a questão do narcotráfico, todas as discussões ficam sem lastro. É em torno do tráfico e da política antidrogas americana que todas as questões desse conflito estão articuladas. Sem essa insana War on Drugs patrocinada pelos EUA, não haveria as Farc, nem Uribe. E Chávez não passaria de um reformador social um pouco voluntarista e desastrado.”
“I insist: until we don't agree on discussing the drug traffic issue, all the other debates become meaningless and unrooted. All the issues on this conflict are wrapped around the drug traffic and the US anti-drugs policy. If it weren't for the insane War on Drugs sponsored by the US, there would be no FARC or Uribe. And Chavez would be nothing more than a somewhat blunderous and a-little-too-willful social reformer.”
In the same article, Hugo Albuquerque is rather pessimistic about the motivations and the resolution of the conflict, and calls our atention to the possible US plans for Colombia in the near future:
“Não creio que a situação acaba por aí.
A Colômbia, que dos anos de 90 pra cá se tornou o cavalo de tróia dos EUA na região, fez essa ação para intimidar a Venezuela, não o Equador.
Isso é o indicativo de que se os EUA tentarem algo contra a Venezuela isso se dará via Colômbia do mesmo modo que o Iraque foi usado nos anos 80 para combater o Irã.”
“I don't believe the situation is really over. Colombia, that in the nineties became the ‘trojan horse‘ of the US in the region, took this line of action to intimidate Venezuela, not Ecuador. That is indicative that if the US will try anything against Venezuela, that would be made using Colombia as a proxy in the same way the Iraq was used [by the US] in the eighties to fight against Iran.”
Pedro Doria considers the complexity of the situation and of the world, and stands in a certain neutrality, criticizing both sides with almost the same severity[PT]:
“Enquanto o mundo anda mais complicado do que jamais foi, esquerda e direita abraçam velhos conceitos. Não importa a evidente violência com que agem as Farc, tampouco o fato de que a sociedade colombiana está exausta delas. Se é uma guerrilha, ainda mais com discurso de esquerda, há de ser bom. Não é. São só golpistas assassinos, torturadores. Uma gente que prende outras por anos a fio. Já passamos desta fase na América Latina. Seria bizarro o suficiente se não houvesse pelo mundo gente à direita que jura combater um comunismo inexistente e que, além de se embaralhar na bandeira religiosa, age com um anti-cientificismo grosseiro.”
“As the world becomes more complex than ever before, left and right embrace old concepts. It's doesn't matter how evidently violent are the FARCs, or how tired have the Colombian society grown of them. If it's a guerrilla and, better yet, a guerilla with a leftist speech, then it must be good. It's not. They're only scheming murderers and torturers. People that kidnap and imprision others for many years long. We're all over this phase in Latin America. That would already be bizarre enough, if there wasn't in this world so many people at the right that swear to God they're fighting a communism that doesn't exist, entangling themselves into religious flags and acting with a gross anti-scientificism.”
Considering that there are no easy, maniqueistic, answers in these times, Doria stands against illegality and power abuse and, thus, views both sides with suspicion:
“Não é difícil ter problemas com Uribe e com Chávez ao mesmo tempo. Basta não achar que qualquer ilegalidade é justificada para combater o outro lado.”
“It's not that hard to have qualms about Chaves and Uribe at the same time. It's just a matter of not thinking that any illegal measure is justified to fight against the other side.”
This is, indeed, a very complex world living very complex times. Although many are still pursuing and repeating easy answers and shallow judgements about the situation, it's becoming clear that we must make a deep reflection before saying anything or taking sides. There is a lot of misinformation trickling along the unnending lines of political lies and media supported babble. I think Andre Deak says it all when he closes his above quoted post remarking that…:
“O momento não pode ser lido apenas pelo que contam os jornais. A primeira vítima desse conflito, como em todos, é a verdade.”
“This moment can't be read only by what the newspapers are saying. The first victim of this conflict, like in any other, is the truth.”
What should we do when we can't be sure about what is happening around us? Maybe the solution is listening to as many voices as possible, be it thunderous and loud like the voices of governments and big media outlets or whispered like the voices of common people, and try to make out who, and why, is trying to fool us. This is as close to the truth we can get. That is why Global Voices Online exists. We're listening. Are you?
Article written in colaboration with José Murilo Junior.