Venezuela's volatile President Hugo Chavez says he is freezing ties with neighboring Colombia, insulted by Bogota's decision to ditch Chavez as a negotiator with Marxist guerrillas who have been holding hostages for years. Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe accused Chavez of favoring the rebels and overstepping his authority. Chavez called the move "a spit in the face" and labeled Uribe a liar, the BBC reports.
"It's like the case of Spain: until the king of Spain apologizes, I'm freezing relations," he said. Chavez annoyed Uribe by grandstanding and sharing details with the press; Chavez appeared in photos with a rebel commander. The setback angered hostates' relatives and dozens protested at the presidential palace in Bogota. "Nothing touches this government—not the deaths, nor our mourning, nor the pain the families of the kidnapped live with," one relative said.