Colombian President Alvaro Uribe missing 'Amazon Summit' in Brazil because of foot injury
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe today sent his regrets to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, saying he would be unable to attend the so-called “Amazon Summit” in Manaus, Brazil, on Thursday because of a foot injury.
Some hoped the Brazilian forum would help ease tensions between Uribe and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez,who is expected to attend. Chavez has threatened war with Colombia over Uribe’s decision to allow the Pentagon to use seven Colombian bases for flights to combat drug trafficking and insurgency.
Chavez has closed the common border to much trade, and Colombian exports to Venezuela tumbled by 49% during the most recent month for which figures are available.
Tension remains high after several recent border incidents, including the demolition last week of two border foot bridges by Venezuelan armed forces. Also last week, three Colombian citizens were killed in Arauca state, Venezuela. On Nov. 2, two members of the Venezuelan national guard were mysteriously killed. Last month, nine Colombians were kidnapped and killed by suspected guerrillas after a pickup soccer game on the Venezuelan side of the border in Tachira state.
Uribe has remained characteristically calm in the face of Chavez's bluster, which many see as an effort to divert Venezuelans' attention from domestic problems.
But in an interview this week with Bogota’s Semana magazine in which he criticized Uribe’s deal with the Pentagon, former Colombian President Ernesto Samper warned that the crisis is “not the delirium of a paranoid.” He blamed Uribe as much as Chavez for tensions.
-- Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia