[updated 1 and 2]
As expected, Ecuador broke relations with Colombia and nowhere were the Venezuelan army to be seen in larger numbers at the Colombian borders. No excitement by the way in the streets. At least in San Felipe there is ZERO war fervor: Chavez is alone on that one. Actually today many were reproaching Chavez to have kept a minute of silence for Reyes when he barely bothered about the 43 people who died in a plane crash in Merida a few days ago. Not to mention the hundreds who are murdered every month in Venezuela.
No, what was interesting today was the difference between those who talked, too much, and those who retained some composure and sobriety.
Correa of Ecuador started well on Saturday but since then Ecuador has become rather incoherent. It all seems to have started when the computers of the FARC were found by the Colombian army at the wreckage scene. One of the first revelations was that the Ecuador foreign minister was "in touch" with the FARC. He promptly admitted it but we had to wait today for details. I saw his speech, and I saw that he was a rather lousy speaker, not something to be expected from a foreign minister. Then again that he was caught in fraganti did not help, for sure. But what was worse is that he had the nerve to claim he was negotiating the release of 12, TWELVE, hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt. Yeah, right... The FARC were going to give to Ecuador twice as many hostages than they gave to Chavez including their top possession. Who does he think he is kidding with such a preposterous assumption? Gee, Ecuador government is even more naive than what I thought! Or more stupid. Your pick.
Correa gave an interview to CNN's Patricia Janiot where he tried to dodge the bullet. One of his claim was that the border of Ecuador cost 100 million a year to keep up and Colombia does not do anything on its side. Maybe, but that still does not explain why the FARC found easy refuge on that side of the border. The issue will not let go: Ecuador is perfectly right to protest against Colombia the violation of its own space but Colombia has also the right to point out the shitty job that Ecuador does of guarding its border. As long as Correa does not deal with that, he can break all the relations he wants with Colombia, he will be less than convincing. I can see from this that Correa is nothing more than a cheap politician with some charisma and lost of ambition who will not balk at anything to keep his hold on power even if Ecuador will be more hurt by a disruption of commerce with Colombia than Colombia would. At least that is what I heard from experts who say that for example 15% of electricity of Ecuador comes from Colombia.
In Caracas things were hardly better. Apparently Chavez has been silent today, probably realizing that he shot enough his foot and that others should come to the forefront to fix things up some. Unfortunately once upon a time he had an operator like Jose Vicente Rangel who could not fix much inside Venezuela but who at least could present some more credible image to the foreign observers. Now Chavez has only Maduro and Rodriguez Chacin, a failed bus driver now foreign minister and a thug now Interior and security minister.
Maduro went to the National Assembly. He made a cheap chauvinistic act, criticized the Venezuelan opposition for not rallying the way the Colombian one was doing around Uribe (I kid you not), spoke of all sorts of things that seemed like coming from Cliff notes from the Cuban staff in Venezuela (they were that dated), and climaxed announcing that Venezuela had asked all the Colombian embassy staff to leave the country. Not a complete break up but same difference.
Rodriguez Chacin presentation was even worse. Not only the man looks even more of an ignorant thug than ever, but he freely qualified the Colombia government of fascist. I mean, even if it is true you do not do that. How can he pick up the pieces later? Is Uribe calling Chavez in public a commie? Well, I suppose not since Chavez acts much more like a fascist than Uribe...
But the highlight was when Rodriguez Chacin pulled out a computer form a manila envelope (I kid you not) and said it was the one from 'Jabon', the infamous narco killed a few weeks ago in Merida. He said that in this computer he got as many convenient proofs against Colombian officials than what they were saying they found in the Reyes lap top. To a stunned audience he told that he did not reveal anything before, because of his "ethics", leaving the audience even more stunned. I mean, what ethics are we discussing here, those between two narco groups supporting each other and having rules of engagement, or the ethics that a chief security officer should have about the Venezuelan populace? Because if Rodriguez did really had such evidence for quite a while, it was his duty to warn Uribe of his staff dealing in drug trafficking. Unless Rodriguez was collabrating with the US or something in order to expose a major drug cartel. Of such a possibility he said nothing, just "ethics", even when a Colombian reporter asked him again why he did not reveal such crucial information. Yeah, right, the ethics of the mafia mob.....
Colombia remains focused
Colombians know a good thing when they hold it, they are forging ahead, revealing what they know, and not getting at all in the ridicule tit for tat that the other guys want to drag them into. No matter what tantrums Chavez and Correa throw, and what the rest of Latin America might hold in particularly fake crocodile tears, the Uribe staff is in control. Well, maybe they are getting into some tit-tatting but they are definitely much less hysterical than their neighbors.
So Colombia calmly said that they would not be mobilizing anything to any border and that instead they will go tot he OAS to protest the protection given to the FARC by Venezuela and Ecuador and the implication for the OAS raison d'être that is . In other words, Uribe is going to call the bluff of Venezuela at the OAS and might be the one wrecking the now totally useless body. I bet you that Insulza must be having cold sweats at the prospect of seeing himself ridiculed just when preparing to launch his candidature to Chile presidency. Oh well, too bad for the most insignificant and enabler chief in recent OAS memory.
Meanwhile, an instant poll revealed a Uribe floating at a stratospheric 84%. The opposition rallies and only a few voices pray that Uribe will not use this to seek a third term.
France confesses before it is caught
Perhaps the amusing detail of today was the admission by Kouchner that France was in direct contact with Reyes. Probably they preferred to mention it before the Colombians had the time to announce to the world that France was doing behind the back dealing with the enemies of the Colombian state. I suspect that foreign minister Kouchner will not be received any time soon in Bogota as the French now have also lost any credibility in the whole business, Ingrid being now reason enough for them to flout any convention, at the risk to destabilize gravely whole countries. France has been so reckless, so inconsiderate of the problem that it is simply astounding! Heck! Kouchner with total lack of diplomacy said that Ingrid should be released first.
Conclusion? Watching all of these people today, just on gut feeling, I trusted more the Colombians than anyone else. For starters Colombian officials speak in whole constructed sentences. Second they are composed. Third, the arguments of the other side are too numerous and too contrived. Maybe Colombia is a liar, but the ones that look like jerks are form the other side.
Besides let's not forget one thing, after decades in the jungles, a bitter Reyes might have started fantasizing in his own computer so everyone might be a liar. However, "el que se rasca es porque algo le pica", those who scratch themselves it is because they have an itch.... I will leave it at that....
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Update 1: This Tuesday morning I had the pleasure to read Tal Cual while I was drinking my morning tea the editorial of Teodoro (ins Spanish here). Not only he confirms a lot of my interpretations above (see, you do not need to be a rocket scientists to find it weird that Chavez and Correa are shouting so much) but it insists a lot on why the FARC was in Ecuador as "Pedro por su casa". Teodoro, an ex guerillero himself, pertinently asks where has anyone seen a guerrilla sleeping in pajamas.....
If Chavez was hoping for Venezuela to rally to the flag, well, it ain't happening.
Update 2: and of course Weil had to chime in. Legend is "Do not get into my territory". no comments needed.