So after some consultations with cross-border bloggers, a clearer picture seems to be emerging on Thursday’s dramatic and explicit Colombian accusations of Venezuelan connivance with FARC and ELN: what this signals is a serious rift between Uribe and his erstwhile protegé, Juan Manuel Santos.
The president elect was moving strongly to let bygones be bygones and relaunch the until-recently flourishing trade relationship along Colombia’s long border with Venezuela. Uribe, who is a proper hardliner, warned him both privately and publicly against it. When it seemed clear that Santos was going to go ahead anyway, Uribe did what he could to make the move politically difficult for Santos.
This version, which casts Santos as a kind of sheep-in-wolve’s-clothing, appears pretty dominant in Colombia. Uribe – a guy with an enormous appetite for power – hasn’t accepted that Santos isn’t going to play Medvedev to his Putin. Santos is surely no pacifist, but grasps the political payoff of restoring cross-border trade: both in terms of jobs in Colombia’s border region, and in terms of increased economic interdependence acting as a break on conflict.
That’s how well-informed Colombians seem to see it, anyway…