How quickly things tend to turn around in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours. It was only a few weeks ago that monkey-boy chavez was threatening to cut off oil exports to the US. Now, with the capture of those FARC laptops in Ecuador by the Colombian government, it appears that chavez just might have that decision made for him.
WASHINGTON — Following up on allegations that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s links to Colombian guerrillas have been much deeper than previously thought, a senior U.S. government official has confirmed that the Bush administration has asked its lawyers to look into what gets a country on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The investigation is the first step in a process that could see Venezuela join North Korea , Cuba , Sudan , Syria and Iran as countries that the State Department has designated as supporters of terrorism.
U.S. laws give leeway to what economic activity is subject to sanctions, but in the extreme, U.S. and many foreign businesses would be forced to sever links with one of the world’s largest producers of oil, severely affecting Venezuela’s oil trade.
The legal review comes after Colombia captured four computers belonging to a FARC guerrilla leader in a raid March 1. The documents suggest that the Venezuelan government was in the process of providing $300 million in assistance to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which U.S. and Colombian officials call a “narco-terrorist” group but Chavez considers a legitimate insurgency.
A senior U.S. administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the subject, said government lawyers had been asked to clarify “what goes into effect in terms of prohibitions or prohibited activities” with the “state sponsor” designation.
U.S. officials are reluctant to predict whether the FARC computer discoveries will lead to sanctions, saying that U.S. investigators must first corroborate their veracity.
If the documents are shown to be true— the official said that the publicly released ones so far looked genuine— then “I think it will beg the question of whether or not Venezuela , given Chavez’s interactions with the FARC, has… crossed the threshold of state sponsor of terror.”
The official said the lawyers hadn’t yet returned with a response.
Such a designation “immediately imposes (restrictions) on the abilities of U.S. companies to work in Venezuela ,” said James Lewis , a former State Department arms trafficking expert who’s now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies , a national-security research center.
U.S. companies would be “forbidden from operating there, forbidden from receiving any money from Venezuela,” Lewis said. “It would make it very hard for Venezuela to sell oil to the U.S. All the arrangements we have now where Venezuelan oil is routinely sent to the United States would have to stop.”
What an interesting turn of events. One moment you’re on top of the world thumbing your nose at the world’s greatest super-power and the next thing you know you’re flat on your back on the verge of losing 60% of your income—just like that.
I guess monkey-boy can always look on the bright side. For a nicely worded and decorative IOU signed by his good friends in Cuba, he can always sell them all that extra crude he may end up being stuck with.