Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Santos and Chavez Bury the Hatchet

Best Buddies?

Presidents Hugo Chavez and Juan Manuel Santos made up yesterday and apparently buried their differences. That's a dramatic turnaround, since just a few weeks ago Colombia was accusing Venezuela of harboring anti-Colombian guerrillas on its territory and Chavez was calling Colombia a puppet of the United States.

Chavez, with his economy slumping and his international image looking progressively more bellicose and authoritarian, Chavez needed good relations with his country's second-biggest trade partner, as well as a good photo opportunity. Santos wanted to start out his presidency on a positive note, to mark a break with Uribe and to end the economic crisis along the border.

Thankfully, the buddying up also pushes back the threat of a border growing into violence.

Unfortunately, it won't last.

Despite Chavez's statements, and even any policy changes he might make, the guerrillas will continue using Venezuelan territory. The border is simply too long to control and Venezuelan officials are too corrupt to impose any genuine controls, even if Chavez wanted to. But, it's hard to believe that Chavez, with his romantic fantasies about revolutionary guerrillas and paranoia about Colombia and the United States, really wants to.

Chavista true believers demonstrate in central Bogotá. Have they reflected that demonstrations and free speech aren repressed in Venezuela's allies like Belarus, Cuba and Iran?
So, the guerrillas will remain a sore point between the neighbors, and Colombia will continue being a convenient enemy for Chavez when he wants to distract attention from his country's many domestic troubles.

This blog written by Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours

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