The import of the recent verification of close ties between Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is quickly being accepted as yet another reason to support free trade with Colombia. The Orlando Sentinel editorializes:
It’s easy enough to dismiss Hugo Chavez as one of those crazy uncles who isn’t quite right in the head. It would also be quite foolish. Documents that recently linked Mr. Chavez to a plan to arm and finance insurgents in Colombia show just how worrisome he’s become to the United States and other nations that favor a more democratic South America.
As president of Venezuela, Mr. Chavez is one dangerous jefe. The files show deep ties between Mr. Chavez and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. That connection may involve arming the rebels with rocket-propelled grenades and ground-to-air missiles. So why should the U.S. care?
South America runs the risk of becoming a more volatile and hostile region. That’s why it’s vital for the U.S. House to pass the stalled free-trade agreement with Colombia. The agreement calls for U.S. factories and farmers to have the same duty-free access in Colombia that its exporters already have here under temporary trade-preference programs. It’s a win-win from an economic and foreign-policy standpoint. The U.S. needs as many allies as it can get in that region.