By JACOBO G. GARCIA
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is taking a tougher line with Venezuela’s socialist government, urging it to free a prominent opposition leader.
The change in tone comes as Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis is leading Latin American governments to reconsider how best to respond to the threat of renewed unrest there.
Since taking office in 2010, Santos had been reluctant to criticize Venezuela, looking to win its support for peace talks with Colombia’s rebels and avoid a return of tensions that led to talk of war on both sides of the border in 2008.
Colombia broke with its hands-off policy late Monday and became the first South American nation to call for the release of Leopoldo Lopez, who has been jailed for 11 months on charges of instigating violence at anti-government demonstrations that rocked Venezuela a year ago.