the washington post

An Open Hand That Weakens Chávez

Aug 21--Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is a liar and a troublemaker. Congressmen and columnists can say this, but President Obama is correct not to do so, even though his critics want a tougher U.S. policy against the Venezuelan.

A testament to the success of diplomatic finesse is that Chávez and his pan-regional socialist dreams have been losing ground in Latin America since the inauguration of Obama and his appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

In the past week alone, two Chávez allies have broken ranks. Ecuador and Venezuela were teamed against neighboring Colombia over a guerrilla war there. But Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has just accepted an olive branch offered by Colombian President Álvaro Uribe.

Ecuador's vice president went so far as to add that his country would not let Chávez drag it into war with Colombia, and its defense minister snubbed a renewed Venezuelan attempt to classify Colombia's FARC guerrillas as legitimate state actors. The minister said that Ecuador had "zero tolerance" for the FARC. While Venezuela clearly harbors and funnels arms to the FARC -- despite Chávez's patently false denials -- American and Colombian officials say that Ecuador has been cracking down on the guerrillas along its border. A Colombian raid of a FARC camp inside Ecuador in 2008 led to a rupture in relations between the two countries.
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