Venezuelan diplomat responds to Washington Post

Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera. Photo: Chris Leck.

The following open letter was written by Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the US, to the Washington Post editorial board. He wrote in response to a July 30 editorial that accused Venezuela of harbouring Colombian “terrorists”. Alvarez said: “This letter has been made public given that The Washington Post rarely publishes our responses.”

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One more time, the Post’s editorial page dogmatically editorialises against the Venezuelan government, asserting that a collection of Google maps and a bunch of outdated pictures taken out of context — presented by [Colombian President] Alvaro Uribe’s government in a media show — are the most recent “proof” about Venezuela’s support for “terrorist” groups.

Of course, according to the Post, this was all pretty clear since a laptop allegedly recovered by Colombian authorities in 2008 during an illegal raid into Ecuadorean territory had all kinds of “amazing” documentation about the [Colombian rebel group] FARC’s international connections.

The Post doesn’t mention that the laptop miraculously survived a bombing that killed 26 people and destroyed most of the camp; neither does it mention that even an Interpol analysis of the laptop concluded that because of the handling of the evidence by the Colombian government for days before it was turned over, the documents on it could not be used in any judicial proceedings.

Had the Post tried a more honest analysis about the issues at stake between Colombia and Venezuela, it would start by considering that both countries share a 1400 mile border that is very difficult to patrol. Or that Colombia has been suffering a 60-year-long civil war that has become a multilayered conflict, impossible to resolve only through military means.

The reality is that the Venezuelan authorities have done everything in their power to prevent the insurgents, paramilitaries and Colombian criminals from using our territory and that Uribe’s accusations in the past have been proven false.

At the same time we have welcomed with open arms more than four million Colombians that now call Venezuela home.

In fact, President Hugo Chavez has actively worked for peace in Colombia, as demonstrated by his efforts under Uribe’s government to promote the guerrillas’ unilateral release of hostages and his repeated calls for the guerrillas to lay down their arms.

However, according to the logic of the Post, even President Barack Obama must be protecting arms and drug traffickers that cross the border between Mexico and the US. And he also might be an ally of the criminals that storm El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. This logic is absurd.

Maybe what really annoys the Post is that President Chavez has actively called for a political solution to the Colombian conflict and that the latest rapprochement between Colombia and Venezuela slightly opened the door to the possibility of reaching peace.

This would not be surprising as the Post also stridently editorialised in favour of the Iraq war (and the falsified intelligence that justified it), collaborating, as Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin once denounced it, to drive of almost two thirds of Congress to vote in favour of that ill-advised war.

President Chavez and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) are actively working for peace and integration in the region and we hope we can turn the page once the new president elect of Colombia is inaugurated. Let’s hope the Post editorial page doesn’t manage to poison this process.

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