THE WASHINGTON POST | 1/3/2011 12:00:00 AM
Colombia's new leader seen as good for U.S.
THE WASHINGTON POST--The fiery socialist Hugo Chavez of Venezuela used to deride Juan Manuel Santos as the No. 1 "little Yankee.'' Now, as Colombia's new president, Santos calls Chavez "my new best friend.''
In two recent interviews with The Washington Post, Santos, 59, said he realizes his moves have raised eyebrows, as much here as in Washington, which has been a steady partner in Colombia's fight against drug traffickers and a Marxist insurgency. Santos's landslide victory in a June election, after all, was seen as a message of support for the policies of Uribe.
"They thought that I was going to be a surrogate of President Uribe and simply follow his policies. That was absurd from the beginning,'' Santos said. "Uribe is Uribe and Santos is Santos, and Santos has a different approach."
But some current and former American officials say they think the change in power in Colombia has left the United States better off, because many South American leaders viewed Uribe as overly militaristic and had come to distrust him.
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