The feud continues between Venezuelan President Chávez and Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos

Latin America and the Caribbean

The feud between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos continues after Santos returned from a five day visit to Washington. On Sunday, Chávez took time on his program "Alo, presidente" to criticize the Colombian government, taking a stab at Juan Manuel Santos, who, according to President Chávez, is "a dangerous threat to peace" in Latin America. As can be seen in this, this and this article, the back and forth between Chávez and Santos has been going on for years, most spectacularly in October 2007, during an earlier Santos trip to Washington. At an event at the Inter-American Dialogue, during a time when President Alvaro Uribe had authorized Chávez to facilitate hostage exchange talks with the FARC guerrillas, Santos had said that the Colombian government had asked Chávez to stop trying to use his role to score propaganda points. Since then, Chávez has called Santos a "warmonger" and has elicited Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's urging that Colombian officials be prudent in their remarks about Venezuela, according to the Associated Press. This time Santos visited Washington, he was careful not to mention the "C-word," as he called it at an event at the Center for American Progress. According to the Washington Times, when asked about Chávez, Santos said "Every time I mention [Mr. Chávez's] name here, there's a scandal." However, President Chávez still took the opportunity to slam Santos after the recent Washington trip. The following quotes are translated excerpts from an EFE article (printed in La Prensa (Panama)) titled "Chávez implicitly suggests that [Colombia] dismiss its minister": Santos is "totally subordinated to Washington and this is very dangerous for the peace of this continent, very dangerous, and (nevertheless) he wants to be the president of Colombia; you can see the ambition for power in his eyes." "The Colombian Minister of Defense is a man who says that we are enemies of Colombia. Recently, he was in Washington and he spent five days there (because) he wants to be the president of Colombia and he is the owner of newspapers, he is the oligarchy from the extreme right." [Santos'] "total subordination to Washington . . . does harm to Colombia, does harm to South America, does harm to Latin America."