I am headed to the airport shortly, for a trip to London where I will be participating in a panel discussion on Friday. Given all that is happening, this is an odd time to be leaving Washington – but this trip has been planned for a while, and it is only for a few days.
I will try to continue posting from the UK, but travel plans and Internet access may complicate that. I will be back in Washington on Monday.
In the meantime, consider these views, from the not-too-distant past, of the Uribe-ChÃ¡vez relationship. How quickly things change.
1. From a June 29, 2006 missive by conservative syndicated columnist Robert Novak, entitled “Our Man in the Andes:”
President Alvaro Uribe returned from his recent overnight visit to Washington in undisclosed disagreement with President George W. Bush. The American president would like the newly re-elected Colombian leader to be “our man in the Andes,” publicly standing up against Venezuela’s leftist strongman President Hugo Chavez. That is not a role Uribe wants to play.
Bush was dissatisfied with Uribe’s noncommittal reaction in the Oval Office when the U.S. president said he was counting on him to lead the struggle against Chavez. But Uribe has his hands full in the 20th year of his country’s war against narco-guerillas. Nor does he want to exacerbate Colombia’s often-turbulent relationship with Venezuela, second only to the United States as a trading partner.
2. From President Uribe’s September 20, 2006 appearance on Neil Cavuto’s FOX News television program, shortly after ChÃ¡vez gave his “sulfur” speech at the United Nations (discussed earlier on this blog):
Cavuto [in his first question]: “Do you think Hugo Chavez is a nut?”
Uribe: “Is aâ€¦?”
Cavuto: “A nut? Crazy?”
Uribe: “No. Ah, excuse me. You do not ask this question of a president who is the president of a sister nation of Venezuela. Colombia and Venezuela are sister nations. We have had a historic brotherhood. We have a common present and of course we need a joined future. Any expression I admit on Venezuela should be a friendly expression.”