Ecuador broke off relations with Colombia on Monday, a day after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent tanks and troops to his country’s border on Colombia’s other flank. The tensions began when Colombian forces clashed with killed a Colombian guerrilla commander on Ecuadorean soil over the weekend. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
This has the look of the beginning of a war in South America, said Tim Padgett in Time, but “don’t bet on it.” Chavez and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe “hate each other,” and “few world leaders rattle a saber as flamboyantly” as Chavez does. But both sides have plenty of reasons to back away from the brink: Their economies are too interdependent, Colombia’s military is no longer the pushover it once was, and Venezuela can’t afford to do anything to disrupt its oil exports.