Many a press article is wondering about the sudden visit of Uribe to Venezuela, even if that one is to last barely 7 hours and will not take place in Caracas, far from excess prying eyes. Paraguana is a good place also to hide the real agenda behind a "technical" fake one. What all of these journalists are failing to understand is that this visit is not between two normal countries after a near war situation. If it were the case, after all the streams of insults that Chavez uttered this year there is no way that Uribe would visit. At best we would have a preliminary encounter at foreign ministry level to prepare a visit perhaps late, very late this year.
No, what we have here is a thug receiving his neighbor and his neighbor knowing that quite well about the thug and acting accordingly, blackmailing the thug, the only language these people understand. Uribe knows very well that war was never an option for Chavez, and if anything the latest brilliant hostage rescue set that point on granite.
What we are seeing here is one man moved by the interests of state and another one moved by trying to save his sorry ass. And if you still do not get it, some details next.
Uribe and Colombia State Interests
For every dollar Colombia buys to Venezuela, Venezuela must be buying these days around 5 dollars from Colombia. No matter how disliked Venezuela is these days in Colombia, over there they all know that it is impossible to move away, or to hope the other guy disappears by some magic. On the other hand the proximity of the Venezuelan market is a deity's send for business and they are more than willing to put up with whatever clown that sits at Miraflores.
Thus Colombia which is having a coherent development policy, at least compared to Venezuela, is using Venezuela to export its first industrial productions while it keeps building up its own technology and resources. Venezuela, who these days produces less and less, is only too happy to buy in order to keep social peace least people realize that we are about to starve any day disaster strikes us. Let me put it in other words, all proportions guarded: Colombia in a way is using Venezuela the way South Korea used Asia 40 years ago or Japan did 70 years ago. That is, the places where they learned international business and tried out their goods before peddling them to more demanding customers, read the US a few years inside an FTA.
Uribe comes here to demand Chavez to reopen the borders in a more reliable way, to become less mercurial about trade with Colombia, or else. It is not that Colombia wants open borders: a case can be made that Uribe has been trying lately to export less to Venezuela, not to depend so much from border trade. No, what Colombia and Uribe want is more predictability: if Venezuela wants to buy less, fine, but tell us how much less and for how long and stick to it.
To achieve this Uribe has the Reyes computers, the expressed support of Chavez to the FARC last December, a brilliant rescue and a now respected army, hemisphere wise, which is making many people nervous. Or why else do you think that Richard Lugar asked Brazil to mediate between the FARC and Uribe ASAP? It is not in the US interests for other people to realize what a good job they did in Colombia, nor for Uribe to start thinking he can do without the US. But I might be digressing some here...
Chavez and his very own interests
Once again I must remind readers that we are not discussing Venezuelan foreign policy or Venezuela's state interests: since 2004 the only interests that have directed Chavez foreign policy have been his own. Period. In fact it would be fair to set the date where Chavez foreign interests became dominant when the oil barrel hit the 30 USD mark.
Right now Chavez has a big problem: his whole strategy in Latin America is falling apart, and of his own doing. No one forced him to support the FARC at his State of the Union speech. No one forced him to pay off local Bolivian officers to support Evo Morales. No one forced him to buy billions of bad Ecuador and Argentina debt that are now questioned even by his ex finance ministers!
Another reason for his crashing project is that Chavez huge ego/hubris has removed any competent person around him on the foreign policy front; which is incidentally another reason why Uribe is coming himself: he knows full well that with Venezuela's joke of a Foreign Minister Maduro he will go nowhere. Uribe probably feels like if he needs to speak with a thug, well, let it be the Thugo Major.
So now, Chavez justly feeling cornered, losing sleep on account of the drop wise release of the infamous lap tops info, has decided to play nice. He wrote to the US to renew with the DEA which was kicked out unceremoniously not that long ago. He suggests to met with Uribe in Venezuela and pretends he is delighted when Uribe accepts. Now he is about to ask Uribe his price to silence the computers.
Indeed, 7 hours are plenty enough for the real agenda of the reunion....