The story was about as buried as possible last September, given the dateline Asunsion, Paraguay. A former president's 31—year—old daughter was kidnapped by unknown criminals. As often happens in Latin countries, authorities were powerless and the public was angry. The fact that she was a president's daughter wasn't lost on them. It signaled that the government could not protect itself any more than the public could, and indeed was as vulnerable as any citizen. So the Paraguayans came out in their thousands, desperately protesting against the kidnappers, holding pictures of the victim and telling them to stop. It's another sad reality of life in South America. Yesterday, authorities announced she's turned up dead, her body dug up in an underground chamber of somebody's house.
Ugly as that story is, the larger story is even uglier. The kidnapping was done not just by local thugs looking for a cash ransom, but by politically motivated terrorists directing the operation from abroad. And their aim was what Paraguayans feared most: to weaken and destabilize their already weak government — so that they could knock the shaky democracy out, move in, and take over.
The sinister forces calling the shots behind the scenes of this professional kidnapping were the dreaded FARC guerrillas of Colombia. But they weren't directing it from their lairs in Colombia. They were doing it from Venezuela. The mastermind and consigliore of this very kidnapping directed at the president of another nation was Rodrigo Granda, the Colombian 'chancellor' of the FARC narcotrafficante organization who until recently was operating freely in Venezuela. The local Paraguayans who executed the deed plotted it with him as early as July in Venezuela. As EFE reports, subsequent email tracings of the Paraguayan ransom—seekers trailed upward to the Granda himself, directing matter from afar.
Granda is the same narcoterrorist who last December was snatched from the streets of Caracas by bounty hunters, stuffed in a car trunk and taken back to Colombia to face justice. The government of Venezuela's dictator Hugo Chavez had given him safe haven and cheaply bestowed Venezuelan citizenship and a Venezuelan passport. Upon news of his extralegal extradition to Colombia, Chavez was enraged about the loss of this thug. He screamed and yelled about the supposed violation of his country's sovereignty, organized street protests to defend Granda (the pictures from that terrorism—defending spectacle are disgusting), recalled Venezuela's ambassador from Bogota, and cut off trade with Colombia. All that to defend a kidnapper who targeted another president's daughter in another country.
That's not all Granda's been doing from Venezuela, either. This Colombian narcoterrorist is reported to have traveled aboard widely and set up operations in places like Bulgaria, and conducted a charm offensive to get support of Europe's radical—chic salonnieres for whom no terrorist cause is too heinous if it strikes at America.
And if that isn't enough, Granda also was the point man for the dreaded Felix Arrellano Tijuana drug cartel, the violent, evil people portrayed in the movie Traffic, who are responsible in Tijuana for murdering presidential candidates, running immigrant—smuggling rings, and shipping cocaine into the U.S. Granda was no symbolic player — his role in this savage business still going on as I write this was quite real.
It seems like a lot of vileness for one man to accomplish, but this is what narcoterrorists do, based on who they are. They are not just a threat to Colombia but to the U.S. and the entire hemisphere, as these two events stretching north—south span of the globe show. And ultimately, these narcoterrorists are connected to al—Qaeda by the aims and efficiencies of their organization, because, as terrorism expert Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld once explained to me: "All terrorism is narcoterrorism."
The United States knows very well this is the deal, and for that reason, has warned Chavez about his masterplan to purchase 100,000 rifles from the Soviet Union, an amount Venezuela's relatively small army cannot possibly use. The U.S. has warned that Chavez is likely to distribute the excess rifles to the FARC terrorists so that they may arm local rebel groups all around the hemisphere and undermine democracies like Bolivia's, Ecuador's, Argentina's and Paraguay's. Aided by Venezuela, their aim is to destabilize the entire hemisphere. Chavez also is planning to build bullet factories too, driving down the cost of ammunition from a dollar a bullet in the region to something much less, something that will surely facilitate the FARC's aims.
This brings to full circle Chavez's very dangerous plan of action to enable the FARC in our hemisphere.
One can only imagine what the president of Paraguay feels about President Uribe's bold strike against the Colombian terrorist who may have just directed the murder of his daughter to undermine his nation's democracy. It's a crime that cries out for justice, and underlies the weight of the burden President Uribe carries as he struggles out of the spotlight to destroy these despised and dreaded terrorists. As the Paraguay and Tijuana cartel ties show, it's not just Colombia's war. With the aid of people like Hugo Chavez, terror's tentacles are spreading everywhere.