Feature

Avoiding war in South America

Ecuador broke off relations with Colombia and Venezuela massed troops after Colombian forces killed a rebel leader on Ecuadorean soil, said Tim Padgett in Time, but all sides have ample reasons to stop short of war. Especially Venezuelan President Hugo Ch

What happenedEcuador 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 saidThis 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.

Usually “Ch

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