When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

EL ESPECTADOR

Maduro And Uribe, Latin America's Look-Alike Enemies

Colombia's former conservative president and Venezuela's socialist leader fight in public, but they love the same, bombastic style of politics. And both countries suffer for it.

Maduro And Uribe, Latin America's Look-Alike Enemies
Cecilia Orozco Tascón

-OpEd-

BOGOTA — They may lambast each other at every opportunity, but what if Nicolás Maduro and Álvaro Uribe were actually kindred spirits? On one side, Venezuela's combative, at times comical, socialist President Maduro, and on the other, Colombia's arch-conservative former President and current Senator Uribe.

Already famed for his verbal spats with Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chávez, Uribe has become a bête noire for leftists across the continent. Yet the political nemeses are practically two sides of the same coin (though their supporters would hate to hear it) of that crass brand of populism, which we keep hoping is a thing of the past.

Their methods are similar, as is their conduct. With their irresponsible declarations, they spread hate and fan their partisans' most primitive feelings. Seen through their fanatical ideological prisms, their opponents become mortal enemies, dismissed in turn as paramilitaries or "terrorists."

The expulsion of thousands of Colombians from western Venezuela, seen recently wading across the river into Colombia like the refugees we see on the news, apparently so distant from us, is the work of a desperate and crazy leader trying to hold onto power in Venezuela. And it suits him just fine to receive an incendiary response from another crazy on this side, one desperate to recover the presidential "throne" he had to abandon and without which his life has no meaning.

It is no surprise that Maduro should invoke nationalism to throw out the poorest among his Colombian "brothers," when people in Venezuela are starting to go hungry and his government faces an unprecedented economic crisis. And more to the point, it all comes in the run-up to the December elections for the National Assembly, where independent polls are currently forecasting an opposition victory — if there is actually nationwide voting. Such a defeat could make life much more difficult for this rather uncharismatic successor to the late Bolivarian icon.

Finger pointing

No one is surprised either by Uribe breaking the tradition of Colombian leaders giving unconditional support to the sitting president, especially when Colombia is to hold municipal and regional elections in October. His Democratic Center party is not doing well, particularly in the country's bigger cities. In smaller districts, he has had to ally himself with people who are presumably his opponents, that is the parties backing the moderately conservative President Juan Manuel Santos. Yet he was swift to arrive these days in the frontier town of Cúcuta, with his shameless opportunism, to make political capital out of the human misery of the border dispute with Venezuela.

Maduro talks as if the cross-border problems (of trafficking and gang activity) began yesterday and were entirely the work of Colombians, and not a single Venezuelan: "We are discovering the frightening reality of how crime, the criminal economy and paramilitarism have settled" in the area, he declared.

Uribe responds in Cúcuta: "Just as (Cuba's) Castro used a thick wall to murder dissidents, the Venezuelan dictatorship is abolishing liberties to mistreat the democratic opposition."

Maduro calls Uribe a "cynic" and the "king of false positives" — a reference to the innocent people killed by Colombian troops and falsely identified as FARC guerrillas — and accuses him of involvement in unspecified "massacres in Colombia."

Uribe shoots back: "How much longer will the Venezuelan dictatorship last? What they have is the rule of the Castro-Chávez dictatorship mistreating and trampling on humble workers."

And on and on it goes ...

They say something good comes out of every misfortune. Perhaps the mirror-image of extremism of the Uribe-Maduro epoch is destined to give way to leadership of common sense on both sides of the border.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Members of the search and rescue team from Miami search the rubble for missing persons at Fort Myers Beach, after Florida was hit by Hurricane Ian.

Sophia Constantino, Laure Gautherin, Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Shlamaloukh!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where North Korea reportedly fires a missile over Japan for the first time in five years, Ukrainian President Zelensky signs a decree vowing to never negotiate with Russia while Putin is in power, and a lottery win raises eyebrows in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Argentine daily Clarin looks at how the translation of a Bible in an indigenous language in Chile has sparked a debate over the links between language, colonialism and cultural imposition.

[*Assyrian, Syria]

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ