Brazil Protecting Colombian FARC Terrorist Since 2005

by Alex Newman
The New American
August 23, 2011

American and Colombian officials suspected that a decision by the Brazilian government granting political asylum to a prominent Marxist terrorist was made under pressure from former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose Workers’ Party (PT) has frequently been accused of receiving millions of dollars from the drug-trafficking terror group known as the FARC. The suspicions surrounding the case were highlighted in an explosive U.S. diplomatic cable from 2006 that was recently released by the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks. But despite the enormity of the revelations in the document, entitled “Brazil Grants Asylum to FARC Terrorist,” there has been virtually no press coverage of the scandal so far.

Even Establishment media outlets such as Veja Magazine has reported on the FARC - PT contacts.

The saga described in the cable began when Francisco Antonio Cadena, the so-called “Ambassador to Brazil” for the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was arrested by Brazilian authorities in 2005. He was apparently living there with his family at the time.

Known as “Oliverio Medina” in Brazil, the high-ranking terrorist was taken into custody based on a request from Interpol pursuant to a Colombian warrant. He was wanted for a broad range of crimes including murder for terrorist purposes, extortion, kidnapping, and terrorism.

When Cadena was finally arrested, the FARC’s “International Commission” immediately sprang into action. It issued a statement the next day calling for the release of “Oliverio Medina, who is a member of our International Commission.”

According to the U.S. cable, citing a Colombian embassy official, Cadena also had many high-level friends within the Brazilian government. “[D]uring the many years Cadena spent in Brazil prior to his arrest last year, he had cultivated close ties with President Lula’s Labor Party (PT) and had met with leaders of the PT in a house just outside of Brasilia (called the Red Heart Mansion) owned by a PT member of Congress,” noted the cable, signed by the highest-ranking American official in Brasilia at the time, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Philip Chicola.

The Colombian embassy official cited in the report also “echoed press and other public accounts that PT leaders had met with Cadena in prison,” according to the U.S. embassy document. “While pointing out that claims of FARC donations to PT campaigns had never been proven, he insisted there was ample proof of Cadena’s ties with PT leaders.”

The decision to grant political asylum to the internationally known terrorist was made in total secrecy by the Brazilian National Committee on Refugees in mid-2006. And by approving the request, according to the cable, the government of Brazil was actually violating its own rules — individuals involved in terrorism and drug trafficking are supposed to be extradited, not granted asylum.

“The decision by the Brazilian committee is audacious but not necessarily surprising, as is the near silence surrounding it,” the cable noted. “The granting of asylum to a known terrorist flies in the face of Brazilian claims to oppose international terrorism. Particularly troubling are the allegations of the Presidency subverting the judicial process and pressuring the refugee committee to take a decision contrary to its own guidelines, allegations we find credible.”

According to “unofficial” information provided to the Colombian embassy in Brazil, the decision to grant asylum was made after Cadena promised to sever ties with the FARC. But American and Colombian officials weren’t buying it.

“We, like the Colombians, will be trying to find out what the official rationale for the asylum decision was and how that can be reconciled with the [Government of Brazil]’s supposed opposition to international terrorism,” the cable noted, requesting instructions from Washington about how to proceed. “Embassy believes that high level political pressure resulted in this decision.”

The Brazilian government essentially refused to provide any information about what was going on, according to the cable. The refugee committee told the U.S. embassy that all documents and records related to the asylum decision were confidential. The Colombian government, meanwhile, was quietly informed about the denial of its extradition request — with no explanation — via the Brazilian embassy.

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Is Brazil ready for more Socialism?

Note: Former Guerrilla Leader and street fighter Dilma Rousseff is ready to become Brazil’s next president in an election to be held October 3rd. Rousseff, a former head of a revolutionary group during the military coup in the mis 1960’s is back. This time, she sided with the PT political party, the same socialist movement that took current president Luis Inacio Da Silva to power.

The New Independent

The world’s most powerful woman will start coming into her own next weekend. Stocky and forceful at 63, this former leader of the resistance to a Western-backed military dictatorship (which tortured her) is preparing to take her place as President of Brazil.

Brazil's president Da Silva campaigns with Dilma Rousseff.

As head of state, president Dilma Rousseff would outrank Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State: her enormous country of 200 million people is revelling in its new oil wealth. Brazil’s growth rate, rivalling China’s, is one that Europe and Washington can only envy.

Her widely predicted victory in next Sunday’s presidential poll will be greeted with delight by millions. It marks the final demolition of the “national security state”, an arrangement that conservative governments in the US and Europe once regarded as their best artifice for limiting democracy and reform. It maintained a rotten status quo that kept a vast majority in poverty in Latin America while favouring their rich friends.

Ms Rousseff, the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant to Brazil and his schoolteacher wife, has benefited from being, in effect, the prime minister of the immensely popular President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former union leader. But, with a record of determination and success (which includes appearing to have conquered lymphatic cancer), this wife, mother and grandmother will be her own woman. The polls say she has built up an unassailable lead – of more than 50 per cent compared with less than 30 per cent – over her nearest rival, an uninspiring man of the centre called Jose Serra. Few doubt that she will be installed in the Alvorada presidential palace in Brasilia in January.

Like President Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Brazil’s neighbour, Ms Rousseff is unashamed of a past as an urban guerrilla which included battling the generals and spending time in jail as a political prisoner. As a little girl growing up in the provincial city of Belo Horizonte, she says she dreamed successively of becoming a ballerina, a firefighter and a trapeze artist. The nuns at her school took her class to the city’s poor area to show them the vast gaps between the middle-class minority and the vast majority of the poor. She remembers that when a young beggar with sad eyes came to her family’s door she tore a currency note in half to share with him, not knowing that half a banknote had no value.

Her father, Pedro, died when she was 14, but by then he had introduced her to the novels of Zola and Dostoevski. After that, she and her siblings had to work hard with their mother to make ends meet. By 16 she was in POLOP (Workers’ Politics), a group outside the traditional Brazilian Communist Party that sought to bring socialism to those who knew little about it.

The generals seized power in 1964 and decreed a reign of terror to defend what they called “national security”. She joined secretive radical groups that saw nothing wrong with taking up arms against an illegitimate military regime. Besides cosseting the rich and crushing trade unions and the underclass, the generals censored the press, forbidding editors from leaving gaps in newspapers to show where news had been suppressed.

Ms Rousseff ended up in the clandestine VAR-Palmares (Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard). In the 1960s and 1970s, members of such organisations seized foreign diplomats for ransom: a US ambassador was swapped for a dozen political prisoners; a German ambassador was exchanged for 40 militants; a Swiss envoy swapped for 70. They also shot foreign torture experts sent to train the generals’ death squads. Though she says she never used weapons, she was eventually rounded up and tortured by the secret police in Brazil’s equivalent to Abu Ghraib, the Tiradentes prison in Sao Paulo. She was given a 25-month sentence for “subversion” and freed after three years. Today she openly confesses to having “wanted to change the world”.

In 1973 she moved to the prosperous southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, where her second husband, Carlos Araujo, a lawyer, was finishing a four-year term as a political prisoner (her first marriage with a young left-winger, Claudio Galeno, had not survived the strains of two people being on the run in different cities). She went back to university, started working for the state government in 1975, and had a daughter, Paula.

In 1986, she was named finance chief of Porto Alegre, the state capital, where her political talents began to blossom. Yet the 1990s were bitter-sweet years for her. In 1993 she was named secretary of energy for the state, and pulled off the coup of vastly increasing power production, ensuring the state was spared the power cuts that plagued the rest of the country.

She had 1,000km of new electric power lines, new dams and thermal power stations built while persuading citizens to switch off the lights whenever they could. Her political star started shining brightly. But in 1994, after 24 years together, she separated from Mr Araujo, though apparently on good terms. At the same time she was torn between academic life and politics, but her attempt to gain a doctorate in social sciences failed in 1998.

In 2000 she threw her lot in with Lula and his Partido dos Trabalhadores, or Workers’ Party which set its sights successfully on combining economic growth with an attack on poverty. The two immediately hit it off and she became his first energy minister in 2003. Two years later he made her his chief of staff and has since backed her as his successor. She has been by his side as Brazil has found vast new offshore oil deposits, aiding a leader whom many in the European and US media were denouncing a decade ago as a extreme left-wing wrecker to pull 24 million Brazilians out of poverty. Lula stood by her in April last year as she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, a condition that was declared under control a year ago. Recent reports of financial irregularities among her staff do not seem to have damaged her popularity.

Ms Rousseff is likely to invite President Mujica of Uruguay to her inauguration in the New Year. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay – other successful South American leaders who have, like her, weathered merciless campaigns of denigration in the Western media – are also sure to be there. It will be a celebration of political decency – and feminism.