Friday, March 07, 2008

President Uribe Shakes Hands With Correa and Chavez

The prolonged stand-off in Latin America has finally drawn to a close, but not before a continuation of the war of words that has been a feature of this confrontation. Before finally agreeing to shake hands with Correa and Chavez, Uribe continued to make accusations regarding supposed links between President Correa and the FARC. Considering the originator of these remarks, the accusations are laughable. Uribe has well documented links to terrorists within his own country. However, President Uribe finally conceded that the Colombians should not have entered Ecuadorean land and the subsequent declaration noted that President Uribe had apologised for the incursion.

Uribe's humiliation was complete when, after a heated exchange, the Dominican President Leonel Fernandez tried to calm things down by urging Uribe to shake hands with his antagonists (see clip below). You could sense the unease as Uribe made his way round the table to shake hands with Correa and Chavez. There is no doubt about who the overall

winner is as a result of this stand-off. Chavez stood 'shoulder to shoulder' with Correa in the immediate aftermath of the incursion into Ecuador. He stood firm and refused to concede any ground to President Uribe during the entire stand-off. The sight of a humiliated Uribe walking around the table to concede to Chavez is a massive victory for the Venezuelan. Chavez further humiliated Uribe by posing as the peacemaker in the region. According to one report:

Venezuela president Hugo Chavez today asked Alvaro Uribe, president of Colombia, to set aside their differences and work together for peace-

"Let us move far away from war and work for peace," he said, after denying funding the FARC guerrilla.

Such scenes and rhetoric will surely rankle those in Washington who were hoping that this crisis would diminish Chavez's standing in Latin America. After all, this was what the stand-off was really about. An attempt to undermine the leftist leaders in South America and re-assert US dominance in the region. However, America's man has been left to look weak and subservient, whilst the populist leaders (particularly Chavez) have emerged even stronger. Uribe will surely be in for a dressing down by his masters in the White House after this abject display.