With rigorous attention to protocol, the strongman Presidents of Venezuela and Colombia met one afternoon last week on the long, narrow steel bridge over the borderline Taáchira River. Venezuela's General Marcos Peérez Jimeénez brought along his wife, his top ministers and a band of military chiefs; Colombia's General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla was backed up by his wife and a similar party.

At the beginning of the meeting (as one observing newsman put it), "protocol controlled every wink and sneeze." Because neither President had legal permission to leave his own country, they shook hands over a carefully surveyed international boundary marker...

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