No, the "Huguito" is not a new model of Yugoslavian car...

Last night the Vietnamese news broadcast was on in the open-air dining pavilion while I was replenishing myself. I couldn't understand a thing the fetching, silk-clad anchorwoman was saying until I heard the words "Venezuela" and "Colombia" come out of her mouth. Oh, no, I thought. The only reason those two distant nations could possibly make the Vietnamese news is if they have finally gone to war. Relations between these two neighbors are not the warmest, and minor spats seem routinely to threaten to develop into a full-blown slap-fest.

This morning I googled, and found it may not be so grave after all. I certainly hope this was in the news in the United States, because it has to be my favorite story of the week. Colombia is a major exporter of tele-novelas, those over-the-top latino soap-opera epics of deceit, romance, and riches. Venezuela and Cuba even run them on their television networks, despite certain political differences (in fairness to the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez, most networks in that country are privately owned, often by opposition elites).

The current diplomatic debacle was launched because a current Colombian soap offering features a secretary (a lower-class citizen) named Venezuela, and a dog (a dog!) named Huguito, the diminutive for Hugo. The Chavez government has complained bitterly, and from what I can understand the novela in question has been removed from the Caracas airwaves. I hope the situation is now stable, but wars have been started for less.

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