Brazil’s Defense Minister Nelson Jobim “all but acknowledged” the presence of the FARC in Venezuela, according to a confidential cable released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday.
Cables sent from the U.S. Embassy in Brazil reveal that in a November 9, 2009, meeting between Jobim and USAID Mission Director Lisa Kubiske, the minister said that if he were to [publicly] acknowledge the FARC presence in Venezuela, “it would ruin Brazil’s ability to mediate.”
Jobim said that Colombia was “at the center of the region’s potential instability” and insisted on “painting Alvaro Uribe as the primary source of Andean tensions,” according to the document.
The minister considered that inflammatory statements by both Hugo Chavez and then-President Alvaro Uribe were aimed at domestic constituencies in the run-up to elections, and an Uribe run for a third term would be a “terrible precedent for Bolivarian governments in the region.”
The Brazilian minister also expressed concern over a U.S Air Force budget document which linked U.S. military access to bases in Colombia with “unfriendly governments.” Jobim said that the document was evidence of the U.S. government’s “complete lack of understanding of Latin America.”
According to the cables, Jobim said that he was aware of the purpose of the agreement giving the U.S. military access to Colombian bases, but that the availability of the U.S. Air Force memo on the Internet had complicated matters.
The leaked cable revealed that Jobin had suggested measures to build “Colombia-Ecuador confidence along their border,” and proposed a border-monitoring arrangement for combating the drug flow between Colombia and Brazil.
Jobim stressed Brazil’s “moderate approach” and willingness to build confidence, in particular by providing aerial surveillance of border regions and by sponsoring exchanges of information on military movements in border areas.
While the Brazilian government had a tendency to blame Colombia for regional tensions, its efforts to maintain peace are sincere and should be encouraged, according to the cable.