Tuesday, August 10, 2010

San Pedro Alejandrino, as much a place of reckoning as ever

Post meeting update

Santos and Chavez are supposed to meet tomorrow at San Pedro Alejandrino, this most hallowed ground in Latin America, where Bolivar spent the last ten days of his life, near Santa Marta, hoping to recover somehow before he could board ship to Jamaica and Europe in his semi imposed self exile.

Why would this two enemies until a few hours ago anyway, meet there?  What should they meet to begin with?

Let's start with the reasons for the meeting .

First, Chavez has been defeated on that FARC inside Venezuela accusation thing.  True, he sorts of manages to appear as the one seeking reconciliation hoping with a grand gesture to renew with Colombia now that the evil Uribe is gone.  It might appear so for the simple minded but in fact the speed at which Chavez is backtracking on his initial blustery break up with Colombia tells us that he knows he lost the gambit, that Uribe won that last dice throw and that Chavez needs quickly to find any pretext to gain time.

The fact of the matter is that Chavez finally is realizing that his support to FARC and ELN has become an albatross at his neck, that Uribe might not have been able to liquidate the FARC yet but that this one is nowhere near recovering the lost ground and that even semi successful social policies from Santos could be enough to finish off the FARC.  Why?  Because Uribe has brought enough peace inside Colombia that now the Santos administration can think in earnest about economic growth and social inclusion, something simply impossible to consider 8 years ago.  And it is certainly not a weakened Chavez at home, with less money than he used to have, that can single handedly restore the FARC when even a zombified Fidel Castro said in an interview this week to Venezuelan journalists that war with Colombia is impossible and that [XXI] socialism is a mere alternate name for communism.  In short, considering that even his allies in Latin America (Lula, Kirchner) are getting tired of Chavez support to the FARC, he probably decided that enough was enough, or at the very least that he needed to gain some serious time here until he can come up with a different strategy to take over Colombia before this one suddenly finds itself with the unexpected gift to pick up Venezuela remains once Chavez is done destroying the country.

And why would Santos oblige?  Besides the long term objectives already discussed, there are some short term ones that justify Santos playing magnanimous.  As the wise guessed, it was all along a good guy bad guy tandem with Uribe.  This one was the bad guy until the end, created a precedent against Venezuela and Chavez that could be used by Santos at any time he were to need it.  Blackmail by any other name.  Santos right now needs two things: an internal policy success and Chavez at the very least will allow for the resumption of some trade at the border solving Santos an economic problem for the time being.  Not that it would be a major problem but Santos does not need the distraction as he has bigger fish to fry, such an FTA with the US before the November vote, reconciliation with Ecuador, and getting ready for an eventual serious negotiation with the FARC.

Because this is what is looming in the future, and quite unexpectedly.  The pressure on the FARC by Chavez is now going to become a reality.  This one might still allow the FARC at home but he will demand that they stay quiet for a while and as such Santos will advance in any armed conflict against them inside Colombia now that support will not be as forthcoming from Venezuela.  Also the FARC knows about the difficultly of Chavez at home, the more so that they realize that their presence in Tachira and Zulia risks very well to create an anti Chavez landslide in these two states!  With new representatives screaming for tough measure against the FARC inside Zulia, their position could become quite uncomfortable.  See, guerrilla thrive by the love of the peasant that see in them as the liberators.  But now that Chavez has destroyed agriculture in Venezuela the FARC in these regions is not only seeing for the criminal gang it is, but also as the oppressor.

And thus we must admire even more this last success of Uribe who has managed a last blow against the FARC before leaving, a blow that sends even Piedad Cordoba into a tailspin of conciliatory gestures.  I wonder if Uribe expected so much success from his last anti Chavez outing.

Of course, not all is won for Santos.  Peace is still a distant objective and the inner demons of the FARC and Chavez are already busily conspiring.  But the Santos victory has told Chavez that if he wants his candidate to win in four years he must clean up his image in Colombia and that right now requires him distancing clearly and unequivocally from the FARC.

And thus, fresh for his opening of the Bolivar tomb, Chavez heads to San Pedro Alejandrino which will also be the perfect excuse for him to drop his investigation on Bolivar's death which was making him the "hazmereir" of Latin America.  A nice extra gift for Santos if you ask me....  I am sure that Santos will enjoy much more the quiet and peace of the Quinta, the shady corridors that protect from the harsh Caribbean sun than Chavez will do....


Post meeting update.

Chavez arrived half an hour after Santos.  Normal.  We were told that Chavez had about half a dozen of vehicles shipped to Santa Marta, including two brand new black armored Mercedes Benz.  Not that normal....  Plus a whole bunch of security personnel and his own ambulance.  At least we know that Chavez will not be mugged like any tourist in Santa Marta.

They all went to San Pedro Alejandrino and inspired by Bolivar surely they managed a preliminary agreement that states a page is turned, let bygones be bygones and let's reopen relations.

Everybody managed to keep a straight face of course, knowing full well that what we got at best was a lull in the battle. You know, that scorpion thing about to stab anyway the frog helping it to cross the stream.

Chavez got a few months of peace and quiet with Colombia not pursuing further the charges.  But the charges are there and they hang on Chavez head as Damocles sword, a very sharp one.

Santos gets a tamed Chavez for a while which is good for him while he sets his agenda at home.  He also gets Venezuela to recognize its commercial debt to Colombia and a renewed promise to pay up.  Which it will do at least in part least that sword shines again.  Best, Santos gets an aura of forgiving statesman right on time to go to DC and get his long awaited FTA.

The future?  Conflict is inevitable once again since Chavez simply cannot give up his alliance with the FARC that he needs for his pan-latin "revolution".  The best Colombia can hope is for a few weeks of low border activity.  As for drug traffic, do not count on its reduction: too many within chavismo are benefiting from it and financing obscure "revolutionary" deals here and there (the more so that PDVSA money is getting scarcer and scarcer).

Collateral effect?  Chavez is further discredited as an all bark, no bite character.  And that is bad for him before local elections as the radicals are going to be disoriented with such a fallback at Santa Marta after cadenas of insults against Santos.  And confusion will happen outside of Venezuela too, complicating his ability to maneuver in advancing his continental project, now that Ecuador is watering down and that Evo gets his first major challenge of his second term  in supposedly friendly Potosi in a major strike.

Truly, when I wrote the title of this post I did not expect to be proven to be so right!

PS: I have spared you the pitiful spectacle of Chavez with his coat he never took of, the only one there to keep it at all times, with his rambling speeches, with his totally misplaced attack on CNN, etc, etc....

PS2: Important detail I forgot to mention: all Colombians were in white shirts, the anti FARC uniform... Just in case any one thought that Chavez had a chance to control the agenda.....  :)


  1. Anonymous9:58 AM

    And as a fitting gift signifying good will, Chavez will present his host with the bones from the Liberator's right hand (the left one had only three fingers) wielding a replica of his sword. In retribution, Santos will offer Chavez a drink from the same mug Bolivar used moments before his untimely demise. Years later, a paramilitary by the name of Santander will be held responsible for the liberation of Venezuela.

  2. Fidel Castro said in an interview this week to Venezuelan journalists that war with Colombia is impossible and that [XXI] socialism is a mere alternate name for communism.

    Link? That's one for the archives.

  3. I wonder what Bolivar will say to Hugo from his not-quite-grave.

    At this point, it will be hard for Hugo to continue with the trade barriers that he ordered up. "Blackmail by any other name" - or in any other arena. In politics, it's just how you play. Though really, it was Chavez who was attempting the blackmail, and Uribe managed to turn the tables.

    Always nice to see Piedad attempting to save face. Though one of her quotes is extremely telling: "nosotros estamos muy satisfechos de haber podido ayudar, de haber podido contribuir." In other words, we create a problem, then we stop causing the problem, and voila - we're helping! Hugo-think in a nutshell.

    I really like this quote from Gustavo Petro: "Es una tontería, es realmente una estupidez polarizar unas relaciones que le sirven tanto a los venezolanos como a los colombianos." Yeah, and whose fault was that exactly? We know.

  4. torres4:17 PM

    Link to Fidel's quote:



  5. Alek, look here:


    I watched on Globo Fidel saying 'socialismo es comunismo', but cannot find the snippet in their site.

  6. I have not had time to go over the Castro thing, I just saw it on TV. But a post on that is planned as soon as the tidbit is clearly available on video :)

    Meanwhile let's enjoy the moment, Chavez in Santa Marta with his tail between his legs.

  7. Anonymous8:51 PM

    Chavez really does want to follow in Bolivars footsteps by going to the same place Bolivar died. Now if he would only consume some cyanide.

  8. Anonymous9:58 PM

    Castro said XXI century socialism is communism? I can almost hear Chavez, Correa, and others say to him "oye, no me defiendas".

  9. In politics perception is often "reality".Santos and Uribe have done a good job of playing' bad cop good cop'.The final results are not yet in, but Colombia may end up with tangible gains because of this.

    If Chavez reaches an agreement with Santos he will try to spin things to make it look that Uribe was the unreasonable obstacle for peace all along and that as soon as he is gone everything got cleared up.
    Chavez can use this to gain political capital inside and outside of Venezuela.It's up to Santos to find a way to prevent this from happening.

  10. Anonymous11:17 PM

    Daniel I like this post but really think this was planned all along in conjunction with grave robbing. Certainly, Chavez will have a bone or tooth of Bolivar in his pocket and go looking for some mystical message. I don't believe in coincidence.

  11. Anonymous11:44 PM

    There has been much throwing around the of term "respect". How the "Lord of the Ruin" defines respect is open to interpretation. When you have a meeting of this importance it would be gracious, at least, to be on-time.
    Makes one believe the the prima dona participant didn't want to go there.

  12. No "archive-worthy" quotes from Fidel in those links, but Chavez would do well to pay attention to this quote:
    "No hay ni la más remota posibilidad de que Colombia ataque a Venezuela. Primero porque no le interesa, segundo porque no puede, tercero porque no quiere y cuarto porque sabe que las consecuencias serían desastrosas."

    Very astute; I agree 100% on #1 and #3. #2, they're certainly capable, but constrained in other ways. On the fourth one, that's very true in several ways - but not to the Colombian army. Might not be much more dangerous than a training exercise. :D Of course, Chavez will continue to trot out the canard because: le conviene. No need to make a list.

  13. jj06LotS5:39 AM

    Watched the whole thing on Colombian television. My god! What a pathetic image. I wish Santos didn't have to go through that nonsense. However, because of the idiot LatAm presidents, including Lula, he had to go along.

    I give it just a week and we're back to "al carajo" and all that jazz.

  14. I found the links to the two videos, about an hour and a half in total, posted in my blog. I recommend to everyone to watch that 'interview', is one for the ages, from Castro cracking up with Mario Silva stupid questions, to Izarra stating that Venezuela had a "guerrerista y militarista" neighbour (Uribe), to Vanessa Davies saying when presenting Fidel "lider continental, latinoamericano..." and the dictator actually embarrassed by so much halabolismo, to Walter Martinez, seemingly the most prepared of the bunch, being grilled by Fidel, to the categorical denial of the dictator of a possibility of war between Colombia and Venezuela, or indeed nuclear war anywhere else... Truly unique stuff.

    As per the now official resolution of the Colombia - Venezuela spat, Juan Nagel and those who thought that what Uribe did was irresponsible if you're reading, we expect your acceptance that you were wildly off the mark assessment any time now.

  15. Milonga4:20 PM

    I think you should all read the FARC's blog: http://www.resistenciafariana.blogspot.com/ It's scary. At least those of you that read Spanish. On the other hand, the clownish spectacle given by Fidel-like outfit with flag Chavez, plus the K rogue, only proves why we still belong to the underdeveloped world.

  16. AB

    Hey! Hey! No grievances from other blogs! ;)

  17. Anonymous9:11 PM

    See that already?


  18. Kolya9:22 PM

    "Chavez is further discredited as an all bark, no bite character."

    How many more times he has to be discredited to have any sort of effect on his supporters? Time and again he has bombastically and stupidly threatened Colombia and the US and then nothing.

    By the way, I guess I understand the logic behind Santos's seeming niceness toward Chavez, but part of me thinks that he went somewhat overboard with it.

  19. Is this the same Chavez that was dead set against Santos warning of the grave consequences if he would get elected and threatening to cut off relations with Colombia?

    Precisely because Chavez has condemned Santos so vehemently it might be hard for him to make it believable that only Uribe is to blame.

    It is now obvious that if Uribe had not made his extreme accusations Chavez would not be in Santa Marta.

    So ultimately he is there courtesy of the efforts of Uribe.

  20. Boludo Tejano4:38 AM

    The cycle of Chavista bluster against Colombia whenever Colombia has the gall to try to defend itself, followed by an exhibition of Thugo’s tail between his legs, especially when at an international meeting, is an old cycle. In March 2008, after Colombia had killed Raul Reyes, the FARC’s second in command at a FARC camp in Ecuador, we were blessed with Chavista storm and bluster. Here are some of Daniel’s descriptions.

    The lady does protest too much: Venezuela and Ecuador should rein their mouths some from March 3,2008 discusses bluster from Correa and the Chavistas, among other things.

    Prozac for everybody! Kiss and make up in Santo Domingo, from March 7,2008, discusses Thugo’s much more compliant behavior in an international setting.

    I’d give a 9.5, Mr. Clark, for these golden oldies.

  21. 1979 Boat People7:26 PM


    Another Brick In The Wall (Hey Ayatollah, Leave Those Kids Alone!)


  22. This is just another cycle of Chavez's borderline and manipulative personality. High hopes and extravagent praise for Santos carries with it a kind of implied obligation to the latter. "Here, I'm changing, now I expect you to do everything to please me and to go along with all my lies and deceptions (No camps! of course not. ha ha) unlike that nasty Uribe." Of course it's not going to happen, and in a few weeks, or months - I can almost guarantee it - he's going to be breaking relations and threatening war again - because his new 'friend' doesn't live up to the inflated expectations, support his delusions and play the game with him.


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