Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wonder of wonders -- Venezuela and Colombia still recognize each other

Actually, the only surprise in what Venezuela does anymore is that its radical leftist leader, President Hugo Chavez, hasn't gotten into any new trouble internationally. To the contrary, Venezuela appears to have become a more-or-less responsible member of the South American community of nations. Case in point: Tuesday's agreement to restore full diplomatic relations with its oft-estranged neighbor, U.S. ally Colombia. Chavez was in Santa Marta for Tuesday's ceremony announcing the resumption of relations and agreement to form commissions for economic and security cooperation between the two countries, according to Cable News Network (CNN). "I think we've taken a step forward in re-establishing confidence, which is one of the basic tenets of any relationship," Colombia's newly elected president, Juan Manuel Santos, said at the announcement, CNN reported. The countries have been arguing for years over allegations by former President Alvaro Uribe that Venezuela was harboring Marxist guerrillas seeking to overthrow Colombia's pro-U.S. government. Chavez was particularly aggrieved by Colombia's 2008 raid on rebel camps across the border in Ecuador, and by last year's military agreement between Colombia and the United States. Santos was Colombia's defense minister in the Uribe government. But both countries' leaders were all smiles Tuesday. "I came here to turn the page," Chavez said, according to CNN. There are billions of dollars in trade at stake. Bilateral trade between Caracas and Bogota reached $7.3 billion in 2008 but has fallen sharply since then as relations between the countries soured, CNN said.


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