Understanding Hugo Chávez Requires More than a Few Grains of Salt
Remember when dealing with the utterances of Hugo Chávez that you should take them with a grain of salt (or twelve).
For example, a headline from Bloomberg yesterday noted his recent run of belligerence vis-à-vis Colombia: Santos to Take Office Vowing Colombia Jobs as Chavez Cuts Ties, Talks War.
However, a headline in today’s El Tiempo already shows Hugo softening: Tras el discurso de Santos, Chávez propone encuentro [“After Santos’ Speech, Chávez Proposes a Meeting”]:
“Yo estoy dispuesto a voltear la página completa y mirar hacia el futuro. Estoy dispuesto, presidente Santos”, expresó Chávez en un acto político, transmitido por la televisión estatal VTV.
[“I am ready to turn the page and look to the future. I am ready, President Santos,” said Chávez in a statement broadcast on VTV state television.]
Further, a Reuters piece today reports: Chavez urges Colombian rebels to put down arms.
None of this is to say that Chávez is necessarily about to become chums with Santos, but rather to note his mercurial nature and to underscore that one ought to treat both his belligerent and his pacific rhetoric as just that, rhetoric. Indeed, the likely behavior from the government in Caracas is almost certainly the status quo.
More to the point, while it is true that Chávez frequently engages in over the top bluster, it is extremely important to understand that that is exactly what it is: bluster.
Indeed, if one were to take Chávez seriously on these types of proclamations, one should have witnesses half a dozen (at least) wars between Colombia and Venezuela in the last half a decade.
Note: translations mine.