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.]