Dancing with Wolves in Latin America

By William Butler Salazar

(Published January 8, 2002 by the San Juan Star)

We’ve all heard tunes produced by the “Buena Vista Social Club”, good old fashioned Cuban salsa played by a bunch of spry aged musicians. Making music and charming audiences, though, is not why they ply their trade worldwide. 

To the harmless musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club, Fidel has attached a group of special well trained men, low key, suave, urbane agent-missionaries whose purpose is to locate people and organizations sympathetic to leftist causes, make initial contacts, enhance these with time, and through agile manipulation, burrow into these groups and become a factor in their decision making process.

It took Fidel 40 years to learn how, but now he’s latched on to a formula that fits into his global dream for Latin America. He’s been at it for years. And learning hasn’t been easy. Setbacks in Africa, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Guatemala in the 70’s and 80’s forced him to come up with new strategy. The Cuban Communist party participated, since day one in the so-called “Forum of Sao Paolo” made up of 115 left and center-left Latin American and Caribbean political groups, entered in 1996 as a Consulting Member or the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPAL) and maintains contact with other international and regional organizations.

In Managua on July 19, 2000, the delegates of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional proposed at the meeting of the FORUM held in that city that: "The Islamic world is the natural ally” of the left in Latin America. Thus it was no accident or little wonder that Fidel and Chavez traveled to the Middle East this spring to cement ties and reach consensus on how to pursue the objectives of the FORUM.

Let’s back up a bit and take a good look at this “FORUM of Sao Paolo” and how it came into being.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (doesn’t it seem longer ago than just 12 years?) and the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro, left high and dry, politically and financially, had no choice but to look towards Latin America. Taking advantage of the power held by the Brazilian Workers Party (PT) in their Parliament, Fidel together with Luis Ignacio "Lula" Da Silva, called a meeting in 1990 of all the guerilla groups operating in Latin America, in the city of Sao Paolo.

Besides PT and the Cuban communist Party, others attending were the Ejercito de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC); the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) from Nicaragua; the Unión Revolucionaria Nacional de Guatemala (URNG); the Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberación Nacional (FMLN) from El Salvador; the Partido de Revolución Democrática(PRD) of México; and a dozen other guerilla groups and parties from the Latina American left.            

        At that meeting, the attendees decided to form an organization to be called the “Forum of Sao Paulo”, whose objective would be to gain power in all Latin America, either through the electoral or the revolutionary route. Over the years other groups have joined such as the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) from México.

To direct the FORUM they created an Executive Group for Civil Affairs to be run, among others, by Fidel Castro, Lula, Tomas Borge y Frey Betto; and an Executive Group for Military Affairs, to be headed also by Fidel Castro, the Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, and the Argentinian Enrique Gorriaran Merlo who plays an important role. Of recent Hugo Chavez has joined this group of “the select”.

The Sao Paulo FORUM has a well organized communication system, and even publishes their own magazine called “America Libre”. They finance their activities through kidnappings, cattle rustling, bank hold ups, drug sales, extortion and other typical activities carried out by Latin American guerilla groups.

With the hard core Marxism of the 60’s a hard sell, the heads of the FORUM decided to change direction and begin to support causes with distinct public sentiment: rights for indigent groups which took them into Mexico; protection of the ecology with guerilla groups paralyzing expansion of highways and electric power; in an extremist version of the “Liberation Theology” (sponsored by Frei Beto, Leonardo Boff and Evaristo Arns), with the objective of dividing the Catholic church and thus justify violence with their presumably Christian arguments; and, of late, the “Oust the Navy from Vieques” cause in Puerto Rico.

The Associated Press, date-lined Montevideo, reported that Hugo Chavez joined the FORUM of Sao Paulo on May 30, 1995. This was later confirmed by Pablo Beltran, the head of ELN, in an interview on Globovision November 17, 1999, and more recently by Raul Reyes, head of the FARC, in a press conference held in Caracas and sponsored by the Venezuelan government.

In November, 1998, Alejandro Peña Esclusa, then a candidate for President in Venezuela, wrote and distributed two hundred thousand copies of a brochure titled “The FORUM of Sao Paolo’s Plan to Conquer Venezuela”, in which he stated that Hugo Chávez belonged to the FORUM and upon winning the elections, would use Venezuelan National resources to finance subversive activities throughout Latin America.

The Venezuelan electorate, thoroughly disgusted with their two traditional highly corrupt political parties, overwhelmingly voted for Chavez. Eighteen months later, the ex-director of the state police, Jesús Urdaneta Fernández, confirmed Peña Esclusa’s warnings when he stated that the government had ordered three hundred thousand dollars be turned over to the Colombian Guerilla Group. We can only guess how much additional aide Chavez has given this group of subversives.

And on Page One of the Sunday, May 27, San Juan Star, for all to witness, are our local players, the Puerto Rican delegates to the FORUM, in full view, hugging their despicable leader. If anyone has further doubt as to who is fueling the fire blazing in Vieques and has Puerto Rico dancing to the tune of the “Buena Vista Social Club”, they need just reflect on the faces of the players.


William Butler is an author, engineer and ocean navigator.