Corridors of Power: Tension in the Andes, Zapatero, Medvedev and More

Corridors of Power: Tension in the Andes, Zapatero, Medvedev and More

TENSION IN THE ANDES -- It was inevitable that the Organization of American States would express its strong disapproval of Colombia's incursion into Ecuador to take out FARC leader Raúl Reyes. The South American continent is a patchwork of contiguous countries, and the idea of troops trespassing in and out of countries at will raises serious issues of sovereignty. Brazil, for example, borders no less than 10 other countries; Bolivia has five immediate neighbors, and virtually every other country has a minimum of three. There was, however, no question of going so far as condemning the Colombians, because everyone (with the possible exception of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez) understands that the FARC is a cancer that needs to be eradicated.

Not surprisingly, the "trumpets of war" -- as Fidel Castro called them -- were quickly muted and the diplomatic dance is on. By the weekend, the OAS will have dispatched the permanent representatives of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru on a fact-finding mission to the area. South American foreign ministers will then meet in Washington on March 17 to examine their findings. Meanwhile, at a Rio Group summit in the Dominican Republic, the presidents of Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador made a great show of patching things up by shaking hands and declaring that they will not do what everybody already knew they wouldn't -- go to war.

Meanwhile, the Colombians, with armed troops on both their borders, are playing down the crisis. The government has ordered no security forces to the border to counter the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian military mobilizations. On the contrary, a pop music concert with top performers has been hastily organized for Saturday in Cucuta, on the Colombian side of the border, to serenade the Venezuelans.

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