Chávez’s Absence Casts Shadow Over Colombia Peace Talks

Chávez’s Absence Casts Shadow Over Colombia Peace Talks

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Despite an increase in violence and kidnappings in recent weeks, the latest round of peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government kicked off on Feb. 18 with a rare display of common ground when both sides wished an ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez a speedy recovery.

Their sympathies provide a subtle reminder of the integral role the 58-year-old firebrand has played in the peace process, even if he is now confined to a hospital bed.

While Venezuelan governments have been involved in seeking a solution to the Colombian conflict in the past, Chávez's influence with the FARC was seen as instrumental to the prospects for success of the current talks.

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