‘Why Chavez’s Border Threat is Empty’

Time has a piece on why Hugo Chavez’s sabre rattling directed towards Columbia is just that. The Venezuela President has sent troops to the border following Colombia’s killing of Farc rebel leader Raul Reyes who was hiding in Ecuador.

The news magazine lists six reasons why there is unlikely to be a three way Latin American war.

1. Trade: Venezuela and Colombia’s economies are too interdependent.

2. Colombia’s Military Revival – its come a long way since President Alvaro Uribe came to power giving Chavez tooled up military a run for its AK’s.

3. Crude Facts: Right now, Venezuela can’t risk any threat to its oil industry.

4. What Would the Neighbors Say? Neither Uribe nor Chavez needs any more bad international publicity right now. Uribe’s domestic approval ratings may be higher than the Colombian sierras; but he can’t secure a free trade agreement with the US.

5. A Hard Sell at Home: If Chavez has learned one thing from his idol Fidel Castro, it’s how to summon the threat of the U.S. to distract his countrymen from problems at home. And if there is one thing Uribe has learned from his pal George W. Bush, it’s how to manipulate the terrorist threat to amass greater executive power. But a cross-border war would most likely backfire on both men.

6. The Red Line: Chavez, who considers himself the modern heir of South America’s 19th-century independence hero, Simon Bolivar, still likes to wear his red army beret. But according to a recent Chavez biography, he once told a U.S. diplomat that for all his bellicose rhetoric, “I know where the red line is. And I’m not going to cross that line — I just go up to that little edge.”

Gene adds: Venezuelan blogger Miguel at The Devil’s Excrement writes:

Curiously, there is absolutely no evidence of the so called mobilization ordered by president Chavez yesterday. Everyone has been on the lookout for military convoys and tanks but so far there is little evidence that any movement is in place, raising the issue of whether this was once again Chavez hot air, which was simply disregarded by the Venezuelan military.