Colombia hostage rescue sidelines Chavez
Chavez maybe sidelined but he will not sit idle while Colombia's Uribe is hailed a hero and Commander in Chief of the best military in the region. The great ego of Don Hugo will not tolerate such invasion. He will most likely begin instigating trouble in the next few days. Jabbing in the air and pounding his chest. Defying Colombia to test his military strength. Calling Colombia's actions nothing more than over exagerated theatrics staged by American propagandist. Fortunately, Fidel has enough morphine in him to suppress the pain of watching Uribe's victory lap.
Hugo Chavez, once a key mediator in securing hostage releases from Colombian rebels, could do little more than phone congratulations to President Alvaro Uribe after this week's bold rescue.
But even freed captive Ingrid Betancourt says the Venezuelan president and his leftist allies still have important roles in pushing the rebels toward peace.
The stunning rescue of the rebels' highest-value hostages without a single shot being fired in "Operation Check" has sidelined the Venezuelan president as a regional dealmaker, many analysts say. Now Uribe is looking to declare "checkmate," and may be more resistant than ever to compromise given his military's victories against the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
But Betancourt said Chavez, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and other leftist leaders can still play an important role in persuading the rebels to seek peaceful solutions to Colombia's violent and seemingly interminable conflict.
"We need the help of our neighbors," Betancourt said shortly after being freed. "They can show the FARC that there's room in Latin America to win power the democratic way."
Colombia's leftist neighbors could be particularly important if the FARC actively seeks peace negotiations, she said.
But for now, these leaders are out of the picture, said Adam Isacson, a Latin America expert at the Washington-based Center for International Policy. The military rescue of Betancourt, three Americans and 11 other hostages on Wednesday "made pretty clear to Chavez and Correa and the rest that their services will not be required," Isacson said.