- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2010

REBEL QUAGMIRE

A terrorist rebel movement in Colombia is in a “political quagmire,” as leftist parties that gained democratic power in South America shun the violent communist army they used to embrace, according to a former Latin American ambassador to the United States.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which once controlled vast areas of the South American nation, is now trying to sue for peace, especially after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez opened talks last month to ease tensions between the two countries.

Last year, then-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused the socialist Mr. Chavez of secretly supporting the rebels, known by their Spanish initials, FARC. Mr. Chavez recently called on the rebels to open peace talks with Mr. Santos.

“This latest political move by FARC has generated opinions that the guerrilla movement is seeking a way out of the political quagmire in which it has found itself in light of the fact that, indeed, the reality in the political landscape of South America — and the entire Latin American and Caribbean region — has changed drastically in the past 20 years,” Ambassador Odeen Ishmael of Guyanawrote in a new analysis of the rebel army.

Mr. Ishmael, now ambassador to Venezuela, noted that FARC and other communist uprisings in Latin America received support or at least pledges of “solidarity” from many leftist political parties up to the end of the 1980s. Since then, many left-wing parties have won elections and find themselves responsible for governing their nations.

“As a result, they generally would not support guerrilla movements, civil war against any state, secession of any region in any country or any disruption of the constitutional order,” he wrote. “Thus, these leftist political parties no longer regard guerrilla groups as ‘national liberation movements.’”

Mr. Ishmael, who served 10 years as ambassador to the United States, was the most senior Latin American ambassador in Washington when he left for Venezuela in 2003.

JAPAN’S ADVICE

Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki insists that advising the United States on the current financial crisis would be “presumptuous,” but the Obama administration could benefit from his views on the economy, especially his caution against blaming the past for the present conditions.

President Obama and his top aides frequently fault former President George W. Bush for the lengthy recession, while ignoring the trillions of dollars in spending and budget deficits since Mr. Obama took office in January 2009.

Mr. Fujisaki told the Seattle Times this week that Tokyo realized it had to “tighten” its budget to recover from what is often referred to as the “lost decade” of the 1990s when Japan’s economy crashed.

“The economy, in my view, is nothing but a self-fulfilling prophesy. If everyone thinks the economy is going to be bad, who is going to do the investing?” he told the newspaper in an interview ahead of a scheduled visit to Washington state next week.

“I think what’s needed is to look at the future and not really grumble on what we had done wrong. As long as it could be used as a lesson, it’s valuable, but what has happened has already happened.”

Mr. Fujisaki, ambassador to the United States since June 2008, recalled how he first visited Seattle as an 11-year-old in 1960 when his father, Masato Fujisaki, was consul-general in Washington state.

“It was 15 years after the war,” he said. “Japan was a very poor country at the time. For a Japanese boy to come to the United State and Seattle … everything was shiny. Everything was so new to me. Big refrigerators. Drinking Coke every day and eating ice cream every day.”

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