So Chavez did his Alo Presidente today. I waited until late this evening to hear what he said. Apparently he accepted the Colombian president offer to discuss the Granda situation but put his conditions: bilateral discussion, not the international forum that Uribe wanted and a previous apology from the Colombian government. As far as I can tell the only thing that matters for Chavez is "the aggression to the Venezuelan sovereignty". No word was said as to how come Granda had set house in Venezuela to the point of him voting in the elections... He also heartedly accused the USA to be behind the Colombian attitude since the USA wants to sabotage any South American unity. (1)
Unfortunately for Chavez as I watched him I was reminded of that old saying (from Lincoln I think?): you can fool all of the people some of the time and some people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
And that is what happening now, Chavez has talked too much about how Venezuela was not doing anything to protect terrorist while it was public knowledge that the Colombian border was not a border for the FARC, and to a lesser extent the ELN. And his loud mouth is getting to him. Let's see the growing evidence of that.
First at home where the opposition is quite far from any Union Sacrée around the president. All wisely condemn the Colombian intervention (whatever that might have really been) but they add in the same breath the inescapable question: how come Granda was at home and voted in Aragua?
Bill Nelson, the US senator from Florida is consternated by the Colombian spat with Venezuela. Even more so as he was in Caracas a few days ago and Chavez received him letting him know among other things that Venezuela was dealing with Colombian terrorists inside Venezuela. Just not the way Nelson understood it, or so it seems after the picture of Granda's house... Now Senator Nelson knows personnally how much can the Venezuelan government lie. He also added to the Miami Herald interview that the US should decrease its oil purchases from Venezuela. Trust is a scarce commodity it seems.
Another evidence was the expressed Colombian wish to deal with that issue in a South American forum. This way Uribe simply wanted to have Chavez say once and for all in public, in front of the other head of states, what does Venezuela think of the FARC and what does she plan to do, for real. Which is why Chavez quickly dismissed it today in his talk show. In a private face to face Chavez thinks he might be able to pull a fast one, but he knows in a public forum Uribe has a much better chance to convince than himself. With the Granda case, nobody is going to believe Chavez until he explains how come FARC terrorists walk freely in Venezuela, or vote there.
To nail this point Uribe replied to Chavez "performance" (that is what the new stage for Alo Presidente feels like) by announcing that they were going to publish evidence of Venezuela help for FARC terrorists. The communiqué is quite strong on some points (the numeration is kept, my translation):
2-Colombia does pay bounty for informers who help in the capture of terrorists. It doe snot bribe. Venezuela must present the evidence on the alleged bribes paid to its officials.
5-Colombia does not accept that representatives of terrorist groups be admitted to political events sponsored by official Venezuelan institutions. On thing is political opposition, another is terrorism. [reminder: Granda participated actively to a recent meeting sponsored by the Chavez government of "intellectuals to save the world"]
And my favorite and the one most damaging for Chavez studied ambiguity:
1-The right of the people to free themselves from terrorists requires the efficient cooperation and resolve of all democratic government [the stress on democratic is mine]
As I wrote earlier, whatever Chavez is saying on the Granda affair is dedicated to his constituency: the radical left and narco-terrorist guerilla like the FARC. He probably does not care what the rest of the world thinks as he tries desperately to repair his links with the FARC. But he probably also realizes the last part of the Lincoln sentence: you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. I bet that for once he is quite anxious, and probably will make more errors.
Stay tuned and keep popping some more pop corn.
(1) That the US is not in favor of unity anywhere is certainly true, just as the US tried to sabotage European unity. But the US sabotage was not military interventionism, rather commercial deals to try to favor some parts, or to create a "special" link with England. And it could not stop the will of Europe to unite, a union which now the US more than embraces as it simplifies transatlantic commerce quite a lot, all rivalries set aside. If Latin America has trouble to unite is due much more to prima donna like Chavez than any sabotage from the US: the US does not need to sabotage anything around here when the local leaders do such a great job on their own.