Chávez and Uribe Squabble At Rio Group Summit; New Latin American and Caribbean Organization Created

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez engaged in a war or words on Monday at the Rio Group summit in Mexico.

The quarrel happened in a private meeting where Uribe complained about the Venezuelan trade embargo imposed on Colombia. Chávez allegedly retorted by accusing Uribe of plotting an assassination attempt on Chavez by paramilitaries.

Chávez then allegedly threatened to leave the conference and Uribe shouted that Chávez was “a coward when it comes to talking face to face.”

Chávez allegedly then told Uribe to “go to hell.”

Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Cuban leader Raúl Castro tried to calm the dispute between the two other leaders.

Relations between Venezuela and Colombia been tense in the past few years, due mainly to the joint U.S.-Colombia military deal that Chávez fears is aimed at overthrowing his government.

. . .

In other news from the Rio Group Summit, 32 nations from Latin America and the Caribbean created a new regional bloc that excludes the United States and Canada.

While few details about the nascent group are prepared, the newly named Community of Latin American and Caribbean States plans to meet in Venezuela in 2011 and Chile the following year.

Mexican president Felipe Calderón said the new organization hopes to create cooperation between Latin American states and defend human rights and democracy in the region. There have been rumors that the organization will replace the Organization American States (OAS), which is strongly influenced by the United States, but as of now Latin American leaders are split on this issue.

“It’s very important that we don’t try to replace the OAS. The OAS is a permanent organization that has its own functions,” said Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera, according to the Washington Post.

Just published at the Dispatch: Latin America Experts Assess President Obama’s First Year.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Colombian pop star Shakira met with U.S. President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House and then with World Bank Director Robert Zoellick, with whom she announced a $300 million early childhood development program.


  • A Cuban political prisoner died on the 85th day of a hunger strike, according to opposition sources.
  • A bipartisan group of thirty congress members submitted legislation to end travel restrictions and agricultural trade restrictions with Cuba on Tuesday. (Spanish)
  • Adoption of Haitian children orphaned by the Jan. 12 earthquake remains controversial; a group of six Haitian orphans were recently turned over to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti after being detained at the airport on their way out of the country.

Central America

  • A 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit Guatemala around 4:52 a.m. on Tuesday. The quake caused no immediate reports of injuries or damage.


  • Venezuela created a $1 billion fund to save the country’s electric system by financing power-generating projects, according to President Hugo Chávez.
  • Peruvian doctors accidently amputated the wrong foot of an 86-year old man and were forced to amputate the other foot to stop the spread of infection.

Southern Cone

  • A man in Argentina who was stolen at birth from his mother, a political prisoner during Argentina’s Dirty War, has been reunited with his father. The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group and activist organization, solved the case.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will attend José Mujica’s inauguration on March 1, the Uruguayan press reports. (Spanish)
  • With the official selection this weekend of Dilma Rouseff as the Workers’ Party presidential candidate, Brazilians debate the size of the state.
  • Jhonny Longhi tells the story of his journey from Brazilian poverty, to the Olympic giant slalom.

Images: Álavro Uribe from Center of American Progress @ Flickr.

Subscribe to Today in Latin America by Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>