Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Colombia and Venezuela: friends again

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on April 13, 2011

by Bendict Mander for Financial Times – Beyond Brics, April 13th, 2011.

Who’d have thought it? Less than a year ago the presidents of Venezuela and Colombia were practically at each other’s throats. With the inauguration of Juan Manuel Santos as Colombia’s new leader last August, many assumed things would get worse.

How wrong they were. The burgeoning “friendship” between him and Hugo Chávez, practically ideological opposites, just keeps on delivering surprises. Now, Santos is telling the world that the camps of the leftwing Colombian rebels, FARC, that they knew of in Venezuela are no longer there.

This marks a huge rhetorical reversal from his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe (with Santos as his defence minister), who just before leaving the presidency launched a full frontal assault on Chávez, accusing him of providing safe haven to the guerrillas.

Why the sudden change? Under Uribe, Colombia looked increasingly isolated from its neighbours (not just Venezuela), while moving ever closer to the US, a key ally both militarily and in terms of trade. But it is finally beginning to look like Colombia may get the free trade deal with the US that it has been angling for so long. (continue reading… )



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