Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Colombia and Venezuela

President Juan Manuel Santos has a drug trafficker, Walid García, wanted both by Venezuela and the United States, and is extraditing him to Venezuela.  Fascinating move, and obviously he feels convinced that he will face justice there.

Also of note is the fact that the drug trafficker himself, as well as many opponents of the Chávez government, argues that Chávez is by extension tied to drugs.


On my payroll I had [government] ministers, the siblings of ministers, generals, admirals, rear admirals, colonels and five deputies from the National Assembly, each of whom I gave a late-model car to," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
"If I am a narcotrafficker, the whole Chavez government is a narcotrafficker.
Makled also has said he contributed $2 million to Chavez for a political campaign.

True, drug-related corruption is deeply entrenched in a number of Latin American countries.  Extrapolating to the entire government, and to the administration itself, is not nearly so clear.  Few, for example, would accuse Felipe Calderón (or Alvaro Uribe, for that matter) of complicity.  The overall point, though, is that clearly Santos feels comfortable, and that is a very different turn for Venezuelan-Colombian relations.

9 comments:

Julián Arévalo 9:20 AM  

You are right Greg, relationships between these two countries are healing since Santos took over. Santos feels that having a good relationship with Venezuela, despite all the well-known problems (including the one you mention here) is a better strategy than one of a confrontational nature. The one who does not feel comfortable with that is Mr. Uribe who wanted to start a war with Venezuela until the last day in office. He, and the far-right in Colombia is willing to destroy any progress in the relationship with Venezuela.

ConsDemo 12:14 PM  

The one who does not feel comfortable with that is Mr. Uribe who wanted to start a war with Venezuela until the last day in office.

I think is arguable that Uribe would have been the agressor in any conflict between Venezuela and Colombia since it was Chavez who was always uttering the bellicose rhetoric, sending troops to the frontier and giving sanctuary if not support to groups waging war on the Colombian state.

Colombia is right to be distrustful of Chavez but, for the moment at least, he appears to be taking some steps against the guerrillas if this article (in Spanish) is any indication. Venezuela is apparently about to give some captured guerrillas to Colombia.

Julián Arévalo 12:21 PM  

Then how do you explain the sudden change in the bellicose rhetoric of Chavez's? I agree with you in some things, Chavez is not a saint and he has provoked Colombia in several occasions. But, for instance, during the last two weeks in office Mr Uribe signed tons of contracts and the only way to keep that off the media radar was by using his declarations against Venezuela to distract the attention,... very weird that it was precisely 10 days before leaving, no?

Again, I don't defend Chavez, but the fact that you are keeping him as a constant, make a change in Colombia, and get a change in the outcome, means that the main problem was not him.

Vicente Duque 2:11 PM  

Poor Colombia is becoming a better organized, more prosperous and civilized country than oil rich Venezuela.

What many American Magazines and Newspapers say about the Ruin of Venezuela coincides perfectly with what I talk with visitors and friends of Venezuela :

Venezuela is becoming a paradise for Criminals after the hostility against the Drug Enforcement Administration DEA and Interpol.

There is very little access to Justice for citizens. Chavez is ruining everyday the Venezuelan Economy.

Venezuela has squandered 20 or 30 Marshall Plans ( the oil revenues ).

This money is squandered in subsidies for partisans of Chavez. In prolific and profligate bureaucracy.

The Government of Venezuela is recklessly wasteful, incredible imprudent in Economic Matters. Fully and Brutally ideological, stifling free expression, castrating the entrepreneurial spirit.

I am not comparing Colombia to the USA or to Europe. I do not even compare Colombia to Mexico, Brazil, Chile or Argentina, , which are more advanced nations.

But compare Colombia to Venezuela and the poor nation stands out in economic progress, control of inflation, prudence in budget management.

That is the reason why many professionals, upper middle class from Venezuela are emigrating to Colombia and contributing to economic development in this last nation : in Oil Exploration, in Metallurgy, in Petroleum Industry, etc ...

Venezuela paid for the education of these energetic businessmen and professionals and now Colombia uses them for progress.

Colombia is not Norway or Sweden, true, but in comparison to Venezuela is a Paradise of Freedom, Order and Progress.


Vicente Duque

ConsDemo 9:33 AM  

Then how do you explain the sudden change in the bellicose rhetoric of Chavez's?

He has to pay more attention to his domestic troubles for the moment. In the last election his candidates failed to win a majority of the popular vote (although thanks to gerrymandering and a fractured opposition, they still have a huge majority in the Assembly). Based on my observations of the Venezuelan political discourse (which are admittedly not based on any statistically valid survey) is that there is considerably less enthusiasm for Chavez’s foreign actions than his domestic ones, even among Chavistas. So, expending a lot of political capital on behalf of the FARC and ELN doesn’t serve Chavez at the moment. They still have his sympathies, however.

… during the last two weeks in office Mr Uribe signed tons of contracts and the only way to keep that off the media radar was by using his declarations against Venezuela to distract the attention,... very weird that it was precisely 10 days before leaving, no?

You are welcome to share the information on these contracts, but unless ex-Presidents have legal immunity from prosecution in Colombia, I don’t see how a distraction, foreign or domestic, would serve Uribe’s purposes if he were conducting illegal activities near the end of his term. I suspect Uribe’s motivations were based on one or more of the falling reasons.

1) Perhaps the evidence of FARC encampments was new. Colombia had certainly been alleging it for a while but as far as I know, this was the first time they showed aerial imagery.
2) Perhaps he was worried Santos was going let Chavez off the hook.

Julián Arévalo 9:18 PM  

It's not exactly legal immunity, but it's very unlikely that he's going to be prosecuted for those charges. Here's a link on the news of the contracts:
http://tinyurl.com/2fbfo4m
Just in case, as a clarification, the two persons mentioned in the article are the new and former ministers of interior.
There is a big scandal in Colombia these days related to that so I hope there will be more stuff on the news soon. If I see it, I'll post it here.
In regards to Venezuela, I take that Chavez might be more concerned about his domestic issues. However, what everybody in Colombia recognizes after the first 100 days of Santos' government is the 180 degrees change in his foreign policy; people (specialists and academicians) don't talk about a change in Chavez's attitude, but a different style of Santos. Maybe the fact that the two foreign relations ministers were friends in the past has also helped improving the relationship,... in any case, I see a more important change in Colombia than in Venezuela. Let's see how the exchange of criminals in extradition request goes.

José Sangiuliano 11:37 PM  

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Julián Arévalo 7:17 AM  

In case you are interested in more details about the contracts signed during the time tensions between Venezuela and Colombia increased right before the end of Uribe's second term:

http://www.canalrcnmsn.com/noticias/los_contratos_en_la_%C3%BAltima_semana_de_los_ministerios_del_gobierno_uribe

Maybe they just found these business opportunities at that time, no?

By the way, that news channel is not precisely anti-Uribe,... all the contrary.

ConsDemo 8:50 PM  

Julian, thanks for the info on the contracts, although I don't see anything in the news articles that suggest they were illegal.

However, what everybody in Colombia recognizes after the first 100 days of Santos' government is the 180 degrees change in his foreign policy; people (specialists and academicians) don't talk about a change in Chavez's attitude, but a different style of Santos.

Indeed, although Chavez certainly has been cowed, for the moment at least. I notice he doesn't blubber when a member of the FARC is killed (the way he did about Paul Reyes) and has shut up about demanding the FARC be recognized as a legitimate belligerent force, or trying to arrange any more farcical prisoner releases. I gather Chavez doesn't talk about Colombia much at all these days. I suspect this is tactical rather than a true change in attitude but I'm sure the Colombians are happy he isn't meddling in their affairs, at least for now.

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