January 1, 2008


Chávez’s Promised Hostage Release Fizzles, His Second Major Setback in Weeks (ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO, 1/02/08, NY Times)

Last week, Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, seemed on the verge of one of his biggest triumphs to date. Now, amid renewed acrimony with the Colombian leader, Álvaro Uribe, he is staring at his second major political defeat in just over a month.

Using his credibility as a former rebel leader, Mr. Chávez orchestrated a plan to release three hostages being held for years in the jungle by a Colombian guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC.

Bristling with confidence, he assembled his allies in Latin America, including the former Argentine president, Néstor Kirchner, to witness a breakthrough in the decades-old conflict between the Colombian government and the FARC. The movie director Oliver Stone was part of a multinational group of observers that included diplomats from seven countries, including France and Switzerland.

Then on Monday, Mr. Chávez’s showman moment seemed to turn from history-making success into his latest failure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 1, 2008 11:35 PM
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