On April 26, Barack Obama supporter Bill Richardson met with Venezuela President Hugo Chavez in an attempt to secure the release of Americans being held in Colombia by the Marxist-inspired Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Besides helping to legitimize Chavez’s longstanding goal of becoming a regional power, the meeting did not produce any tangible results. Chavez later claimed Venezuela had “lost the contact we had with the FARC.” As the Wall Street Journal reports today, that is unlikely.

In early March the Colombian government captured a FARC leader’s laptop after an air strike in neighboring Ecuador. A review of more than 100 of the files on the computer by the WSJ shows that “Venezuela has broader and deeper ties to the FARC than previously known.” The findings include:

  • Venezuela appears to be making concrete offers to help arm the rebels, possibly with rocket-propelled grenades and ground-to-air missiles.
  • According to one document, Venezuela’s interior minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacin, last November asked the FARC to train Venezuela’s military in nuts-and-bolts guerrilla tactics — including “operational tactics, explosives, … jungle camps, ambushes, logistics, mobility” — so that soldiers would be prepared to fight a guerrilla war if the U.S. were to invade Venezuela.
  • The documents suggest Chavez is personally involved in helping the guerrillas. In a September 2007 message to the FARC’s ruling body, a commander wrote: “Chavez is studying our documents and has said that just like Fidel [Castro] has decided to delegate his other responsibilities to concentrate on the Venezuelan situation, he [Chavez] is ready to do the same to dedicate more time to Colombia.”

Chavez’s close ties to FARC are an integral part of his efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Colombia President Alvaro Uribe. Chavez’s continued involvement in FARC’s deadly hostage-taking tactics are a key element of these efforts.

Richardson is not the first liberal to legitimize the regime. Ex-Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) stars in Chavez’s heating oil giveaway commercials. Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), like Richardson, has also supported Chavez’s efforts to lead hostage extraction efforts with FARC. And the same laptop mentioned above also shows that Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) “has been working with an American go-between, who has been offering the rebels help in undermining Colombia’s elected and popular government.”

McGovern’s pro-Chavez efforts do not end there. He has also been a leading force in Congress against the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the defeat of which is another key Chavez goal. Susan Segal, president of the Council of the Americas, notes:

The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement is our single most effective tool to help bring economic and political security to Colombia. Without this agreement and the investment security it provides, hundreds of thousands of Colombian jobs are in jeopardy of being lost. Each job opens an opportunity for a Colombian worker to enter the formal sector and to build individual economic prosperity — the alternative to narcotraffick­ing and the direct threat that poses to U.S. national security.

Instead of helping an ally grow its economy, build democratic institutions, and help protect its own and our security, liberals in Congress have killed the Colombia trade deal and both presidential candidates Obama and Hillary Clinton have promised they would not revive it. This will only directly help the FARC, Chavez and other forces for chaos in the region and through out the world.

Quick Hits:

  • President Bush promised to veto the latest farm bill from Congress since it is “larded with giveaways.”
  • Plummeting real estate values are proving to be a boon for conservationists, enabling land trusts to buy thousands of acres that were slated for development and preserve them as open space.
  • A news study shows that teens who smoke marijuana are more likely to report depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • According to Salary.com, stay-at-home moms would rake in $117,000 a year for the domestic services they provide.
  • According to Gallup, only 31% of future retirees expect to rely on Social Security compared 56% of current retirees.