Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez welcomed the election of Juan Manuel Santos as Colombia’s next president, but with the reservation “by their fruits ye shall know them,” reports El Espectador.
Speaking at the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas Summit in Otavalo, Ecuador, Chavez expressed hope that the new Colombian government would remove U.S. personnel from its military bases, which the Venezuelan leader sees as a threat to regional security.
Chavez also said that he wanted the Santos government to at least “recognize” that the “wild and rude invasion of Ecuadorean territory,” which refers to the Colombian army raid in Ecuador that killed FARC leader, Raul Reyes in March 2008.
The Venezuelan president added that he wanted to see whether the Santos government would “recover the path of respect,” which could not “be achieved with words alone.”
On Tuesday, the Venezuelan government released a statement congratulating Juan Manuel Santos on his victory, saying it will be “attentive” to the possibility of reshaping bilateral relations with Colombia based on “sincerity and respect.”
Chavez has in the past been outspoken in his dislike for Partido de la U candidate Juan Manuel Santos, calling the former defense minister “a threat to the region” and a “wolf dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood,” because of the way he is “going around searching for votes.”
Santos attempted to soothe concerns that his election may lead to conflict with Venezuela prior to his election, stating that although he and Chavez are “like water and oil,” if elected, he will “do everything possible to maintain the best relations” with the socialist nation.
The Venezuelan leader received criticism for what Colombian presidential candidates labelled as “interference” in Colombia’s democratic process.