Gocho A-1 hearts FARC Warlord

Colombian newsweekly Semana added to our ongoing inferiority complex about Venezuelan journalism this week, running this startling piece about Chávez’s new defense minister, Henry Rangel Silva, and his close relationship with FARC’s now top leader, Timochenko.

Semana’s interpretation is that much of Chávez’s highly provocative rapprochement with FARC in 2006 was an outcome of Rangel Silva’s own initiative to build a personal relationship with Timochenko. Neither had the authority to set policy on his own at the time: Rangel Silva was a mere coronel, Timochenko just another member of the FARC Secretariat.

The key takeaway from the Semana piece is that Rangel Silva wasn’t following orders when he first sought out Timochenko. Just the opposite: he was out on a limb, risking a career-crippling dressing down from Chávez for freelancing his rapprochement with the guy. The gamble, it seems, paid off.

Rangel Silva – a gocho so honest he insists on obtaining a signed receipt when he pays hush money (really) – went on to make his name on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of most wanted drug lords, while Timochenko exploited the alarming mortality rate of FARC leaders all the way to the top of his outfit.

Now these two guys, whose personal chemistry made the difference at the critical point when Chávez was on the verge of turning decisively against FARC, run the show.


[Hat Tip: Harry Hutton.]

4 thoughts on “Gocho A-1 hearts FARC Warlord

  1. There’s a saying, “You can’t keep a good man down”, now seemingly, the remit, as it were, of that adage has been broadened.


  2. Rangel may have been taking a risk in approaching the leader of an international terrorist organization but it was a calculated risk. He was well aware that the action was in keeping with the ideological leanings of his boss and he would only get punished if the action made Chavez look bad or somehow lose political support domestically, which was highly unlikely. (Look at Lt. Col. Oliver North for an example on how to not keep your job while making a risky career move) So Rangel’s approaching Timochenko was really not much of a risk. I mean, this is the guy that gets labeled a drug kingpin by Treasury three years ago and just keeps getting promoted. He’s not that much of a liability. Besides, he was a colonel at the time and colonels are one of the most dangerous ranks in any Latin American army, always scheming and seeing how they can become generals or at worst take the presidency. Rangel has always creeped me out because he holds way more power than he lets on and lurks just beneath the surface, like some big, green submarine.


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