“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Chavez Moves Tanks Towards Colombia

Chavez with an AK-47, of course

Chavez sends tanks to Colombia border in dispute (hat tip: Trish)
Sun Mar 2, 2008

By Saul Hudson

CARACAS (Reuters) -
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez moved tanks to the Colombian border and mobilized fighter jets on Sunday, warning Bogota could spark a war after its troops struck inside another of its neighbors, Ecuador.

Reacting to Colombia's killing on Saturday of a Colombian rebel over the border in Ecuador, a Venezuelan ally, Chavez also withdrew all of his diplomats from Bogota in the worst dispute between the neighbors since he came to office in 1999.

"Mr. Defense Minister, move me 10 battalions to the frontier with Colombia immediately, tank battalions. The air force should mobilize," Chavez said, adding he will bolster his military's presence along the 1,400-mile (2,200-km) border.

"May God spare us a war. But we are not going to allow them violate our sovereign territory," the ex-paratrooper added on his weekly TV show.

Colombia's military said on Saturday troops killed Raul Reyes, a leader of Marxist FARC rebels, during an attack on a jungle camp in Ecuador in a severe blow to Latin America's oldest guerrilla insurgency. The operation included air strikes and fighting with rebels across the frontier.

The anti-U.S. Chavez, who had warned a similar operation in Venezuela would be "cause for war," threatened to send Russian-made fighter jets into U.S. ally Colombia if its troops struck inside his OPEC country.

Colombia had no immediate reaction to Venezuela's military movements. Prior to Chavez's statement, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe denied violating Ecuador's sovereignty, saying the operation was in response to fire from across the border.

But the leftist governments of Venezuela and Ecuador questioned the accuracy of his account. Ecuador withdrew its ambassador in protest.

"Colombia has not violated any sovereignty, only acted in accordance with the principal of legitimate defense," the government said in a statement.

Washington, which backs Uribe's fight against the rebels with its largest military aid outside the Middle East, said it was monitoring developments after Chavez's "odd reaction."

France called for restraint on all sides, saying it underlined the need for the negotiated release of FARC hostages, including the most high-profile captive, French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

The FARC said in a statement the killing of one its leaders who had been involved in hostage talks should not affect moves to free captives, according to the Venezuelan government.


Uribe, who is popular at home for his tough stance against the rebels, has often jousted with neighbors over spillover from the four-decade conflict. But he has managed differences with pragmatism and disputes have rarely moved past rhetoric.

Uribe says rebels take refuge in frontier areas and neighbors urge him to stop violence seeping over borders.

Chavez has been in a diplomatic dispute with Uribe for months over his mediation to free the rebels' hostages. Uribe says Chavez used the talks to meddle in Colombian affairs.

The Venezuelan called the rebel leader's death the "cowardly assassination" of a "good revolutionary."

"I am putting Venezuela on alert and we will support Ecuador in any situation," he said.

Uribe is "a liar, a Mafia boss, a paramilitary who leads a narco-government and leads a government that is a lackey of the United States," Chavez added.

Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue thinktank in Washington and a critic of Chavez, said the Venezuelan was playing with fire even if the spat could distract from his domestic problems such as chronic shortages of some foods.

"It maybe is a measure of how concerned he is about his own domestic support," he said. "I don't know how far he is going to go with this, but it is a risky political action."

(Additional reporting by Patricia Rondon in Caracas, Patrick Markey in Bogota, Jean-Baptiste Vey in Paris and David Alexander in Crawford; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


  1. Possibly the only thing that unites the presidents of Colombia and Venezuela is their resolve to view the world differently.


    Last year, Alvaro Uribe felt under pressure to achieve the release of hostages held by the Farc.


    What is likely in the short term is that there will be no more hostage releases.

    War Talk

  2. BBC's off: The closing of the embassy is the big deal, moreso than the troops at the border - which he is quite fond of in any event.

    Shit may hit the fan before the end of the week.

    Farc aura of invincibility shattered
    By Jeremy McDermott
    BBC News, Medellin

    The death of Raul Reyes marks the first time a member of Farc's ruling body, the Secretariat, has been killed in combat during four decades of fighting.

    "This is the greatest blow to Farc to date," said Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos.

    Story from BBC NEWS:

  4. Little warm where Reyes is at.

  5. At 10:30 Turner Classic Movies will run the full uninterrupted, letter box version of "Unforgiven."

  6. My wife is almost done with "A Walk in the Woods"--says it's great. She's been reading with the head phones on, listening to the taped version, reading along in tamden, a little like sing along with Mitch Miller, a new way of reading for her. I'd think it would disorientating.

    You can always tell a thug. Always got guns at the rallies. Pat Robertson maybe was right about this one, should have bumped him off. But then, maybe a worse would have taken his place.

    From what I read Uribe sounds popular, people having had a gut full of the narco boys.

  7. Audrey Hepburn broke her back falling off a horse during the filming of the movie, but completed the movie after healing.

  8. "...should have bumped him off."

    Um, under the circumstances it's against the law. Our law. And you don't want to open that particular can of worms.

    Uribe is very popular, but it's a country with a long way to go - which is not to discount how far it's come - which is a helluva long way. Seven years ago, it was a nightmare.

    I'm glad she's enjoyed it, bob.

  9. Friday night at TCM was The Dirty Dozen. First time I'd seen it all the way through.

    Nothing beats Lee Marvin. Not even Clint Eastwood.

  10. For Hiroshi Ishiguro, also at Osaka University, the key is to make robots that look like human beings. His Geminoid robot looks uncannily like himself - down to the black, wiry hair and slight tan.

    "In the end, we don't want to interact with machines or computers. We want to interact with technology in a human way so it's natural and valid to try to make robots look like us," he said.

    "One day, they will live among us," Ishiguro said. "Then you'd have to ask me: 'Are you human? Or a robot?'"

    Robot Future

  11. Lee Marvin assaulted Jane Fonda with a 'friendly weapon' in Cat Ballou, one of my favortites.

  12. Took a bath in a horse trough too.

  13. His brother was an MI officer. Became a Brigadier. Dead ringer for Lee, or so thought the officers' wives of Bragg in 67, who had the pleasure of his company.

    Loved him in Cat Ballou and The Big Red One. The latter especially.

  14. Big Red One's a good one also.

  15. Hayduke, aka Casper Goodwood, has blown up the control panels at SynFuels Plant: posing as a night watchman, he got in, bombed, got out on horseback, into the freedom of the desert, the full moon and Venus rising, harming no one, having made sure the buildings were evacuated. Hayduke Lives

    Hayduke and I have major problems, as I am pro-nuke power, but it's a good story. You can use chicken guts to throw dogs off your scent, I learn. Chicken guts 'laced with capsicum pepper'. Put that in your memory bank for later use.

  16. Buchanan, for his part, noted that Clinton is starting to correct some earlier mistakes: She is campaigning more outside South Texas and running more TV ads to counter Obama's advantage, while her spokesman, Howard Wolfson, promises a sweeping get-out-the-vote effort.

    Still, most people feel Obama has the superior organization, and they expect him to prevail. And meeting those big expectations may prove harder than getting out his voters.

    "Most of the indicators are trending Obama - polls, the drift of the superdelegates, early-voting turnout numbers," said Buchanan. "I believe the popular vote might still be close, but he has the advantage right now."

    Obama Rides Wave

  17. Bonnie's at the ice cream shop.--

    They entered the place at eleven, beating the lunch time rush. Nobody there but a few Mormon matrons with their squalling litters, those large hippo-shaped women with their snot-nosed blue-eyed towheaded brats. Why are Mormon mothers always so fat? They make such cute teenagers, such rosy sexy leggy golden pom-pom girls, and then, a mere ten years later they're all a bunch of buffalo butts, why? Brand multi-parity. Too many babies. Don't believe in birth control and don't understand the mechanical principle of mandibular sex, the auxiliary function, that is, of what you might call the oral hatch. When a fella needs a fellatio, said Doc, he won't get it from a Latter Day Saint. Female, that is. From the other half, on the other hand, especially if a Congressman, you might get anthing. Like genital warts.

    Hayduke Lives

  18. Ohio Primary That Suffolk University poll looks good. Go Hillary!

  19. Where do I pick me up some of that capsicum pepper?
    Palestinian rocket launchers located in civilian zones.

    Speaking at Sunday morning's government session, Ramon said:
    "Why don't we shoot at the sources of the fire?
    According to international law, we are allowed to do it.
    The issue was legally examined during the Second Lebanon War and the conclusion was that if they fire from a village, we are allowed to fire back even if this is a populated area."

  20. Lawrence Wright considers Uribe the World's most effective leader.
    Says the progress that's been made in the last several years is remarkable.
    Will he be able to continue such progress w/Trish in country?
    Only time will tell.

  21. I DON'T post this with any ulterior motive, nor with any TARGET in mind, and the author's opinions are HERS ALONE, and don't necessarily reflect the views of the POSTER.

    Women Are Really Dumb--Article By A Woman, About Women, For Women

    Wake up, ladies, Obama's not all he seems to be.

  22. Words, words, words, and damn the clearcutters---

    "...Like a cornfield, that's what they want. They want the whole West to look like an Illinois cornfield. Like a farm. We are stewards of the earth, they say, appointed by God to manage the earth(every bit of it) in whatever way seems best(to us stewards). That's our holy mission, to be good little stewards and keep that old raw cranky smelly unpredictable Mother Nature where she belongs, namely in a zoo. Or a museum. Under glass and behind nice neat paved nature trails."

    "I looked up that word 'steward' one day in a big dictionary. You know what a steward really is?"

    "Rod Steward? Iss rock, yah? Rock star?"

    "Not him, beautiful, not that one. No, a steward is a sty-warden. Look it up. It's from the Anglo-Saxon stigeweard, meaning guardian of the pig-pen. That's what our noble stewards are--people who guard pigs."

    "That makes sense."

    Hayduke Lives

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. "Wake up, ladies, Obama's not all he seems to be."

    Like birds chirping in the morning, vacant witticism is how I'd describe his "charm". That's the common denominator. Obama is everything that he seems, at least to my ears.

  25. Chavez is doing little good for the Venezuelans or the region. But more than anything else,the FARC need to disappear. I hope that this posturing turns out to be nothing more than that on the part of Chavez, and that needless lives are not lost due to stupid maneuvers on his part. But there are already socialist/communist parties in Colombia (note my spelling!!!), so why does the FARC exist? They are nothing more than Mafiosos with AK-47s and the Che cachet. The world would be better off if the Jungle simply devoured them.

    By the way, yes, I am still alive!!!