The Economist | 11/13/2009 12:00:00 AM
Nov 13--A hundred years of bombast
The latest batch was triggered by an agreement signed on October 30th under which Colombia has granted the United States access to up to seven military bases. Both governments insist that this poses no threat to other countries. It formalises existing arrangements under which the United States helps Colombia combat drug traffickers and guerrillas; Colombia will now also host anti-drug surveillance flights over the Pacific by American planes previously operating from Ecuador.
Mr Chávez claims that the agreement is an “open aggression” aimed at ousting him from power. Any attack by the United States or Colombia would trigger “a 100-year war”, he said. When news of the accord broke in July, he responded by freezing cross-border trade (which was flourishing). That has thrown many people out of work in Venezuela’s border state of Táchira, aggravating a climate of lawlessness there. Recent weeks have seen the kidnap and murder of 11 men, eight of them Colombian, the murder of two Venezuelan national guardsmen; deportations of undocumented migrants and the arrest on both sides of alleged spies.
In early November Mr Chávez ordered the deployment of 15,000 national-guard troops to border areas. It is not clear how many have arrived. Some seem to have gone to the southern border with Brazil, to deal with illegal mining. Venezuela lacks the trucks and planes needed to move large numbers of troops quickly.
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