When talking about the thaw between Venezuela and Colombia, the most common focus is how it annoys the U.S. government and Alvaro Uribe. But it also annoys the Venezuelan left, which is furious that Hugo Chávez arrested a suspected member of the FARC, Joaquin Perez.
The move is considered a betrayal among many Chavez supporters, including prominent lawmakers, journalists and at least one former minister. It has provoked a furious reaction.
"Next we will be the chased and arrested," said Luis Alvarez, one of about 200 protesters outside Venezuela's Foreign Ministry, "This is terrible and dangerous for the whole international revolutionary movement."
Protesters set ablaze an effigy of Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, calling him and Information Minister Andres Izarra "traitors." Some anger also was directed at Chavez, as shown in road graffiti that said "Chavez, betrayal is not revolution."
The idea that going after the FARC is betrayal is not likely shared by too many Venezuelans, so it is entirely worth it for Chávez to risk their ire and improve relations with Colombia. That will be beneficial for gaining moderate votes in 2012 and for the economy.