So I can address finally Chavez latest hubris, to reactivate the tension with Colombia.
The first thing to observe is that there was no serious reaction to the renewed attempt at Chavez to stir up the nationalistic fiber. The opposition all but mocked the president, remembering perfectly well that last time he sent tanks to the border they were trapped in the traffic jams of the ARC highway. The only note of interest was the declaration of ex president Carlos Andres Perez I translated last night, to the effect that any president that plays with his country the way Chavez plays deserves the boot. Make no mistake, no matter how harmless in the long run the latest lunacy of Chavez might seem, it will represent at the very least substantial administrative costs, will reduce further the already paltry foreign investment and will contribute to polarize further the country as chavista goons at any time could start beaten up some of the Colombians living inside Venezuela and numbered at several millions, the largest foreign contingent inside Venezuela.
But what must have worried Chavez is that his own side did not reflect much more enthusiasm for the fight than the opposition. Besides the expected cheering of the Taliban sycophants such as labor minister Cristina Iglesias or Caracas mayor Rodriguez, not much was heard. In fact Iglesias and Rodriguez probably jumped on the opportunity for some self promotion since their star is not too bright within chavismo these days.
Let's say that there probably was more reaction outside Venezuela than inside. Though not necessarily for the better as, for example, Lula got a slap on his face: right after he said he would promote an Uribe Chavez meeting soon, Chavez went out to heighten tensions. Lula made a fool of himself pretending that he could bring those two guys to the same table while ignoring one of the main reasons for the discord: the FARC support by Chavez. It is astounding that at this juncture Lula is not more forceful on this matter, confirming in my mind what I have written in the past, that Brazil's interest include a weakening of Colombia, the only country today that can challenge them for the control of part of South America. It is time for Lula to go, he has done what he was meant to do and it seems that he is starting to undo his work.
So why this whole mess you may ask? There are two very basic reasons.
The first one is the Galtieri complex, named for the Argentine general that tried to hide the military regime collapse by going to war over the Falklands. We all know how this ended. With all the internal problems that have exploded into Chavez face, problems of his own making, he needs something as big as a war to force the attention of the country elsewhere. A time tested strategy for scoundrels at any level when they feel trapped.
A second reason is that by promoting the danger of war Chavez could force out of Tachira (and Zulia?) state houses the current opposition governors in office, for "national security reasons". There is an increasing need for that because the presence of Cesar Perez in Tachira is bringing an increasing spot light on the drug traffic across the border, the guerrilla hide outs protected by the Venezuelan army, etc, etc... In Tachira and Zulia chavismo needs governors that not only offer a blind eye to all these abuses but in fact collaborate actively in protecting the FARC camps, the jungle landing strips, the drug traffic and what not.
I think this second reason is the real matter for last Sunday outburst. But there is yet another third reason that one can come up with if we assume that Chavez is indeed becoming crazy. A war with Colombia offers him a convenient way out of office at a difficult time and knowing that he has neither the skills or the people to solve the problems of Venezuela. Two sub-speculations here:
1) Chavez is indeed a nut job now and he wants war. He does not care whether he loses, he thinks he will win on the history books anyway and that his face might replace the one of the Che on t-shirts.
2) Chavez knows he will lose and that neither the army or his party will follow him all the way in a war. The consequence will be either a major purge within chavismo and increased dependence on Cuba (I can see Cubans promising that exit), or there will be a coup against him by his own followers and thus Chavez enters not only the legend, but leaves behind a messy country that others will have to clean up allowing for his eventual return in half a dozen years when people only remember the piñata of 2004-2008, just as the return of Carlos Andres Perez in 1988 was due to the memories of the piñata of the 70ies over which he presided.
The wings of war look more and more the only way that Chavez has to fly/flee the tight spot he placed himself in.