Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reiterated on Sunday that Colombia’s recent claims that leftist guerrillas are hiding out in Venezuela are part of a “struggle for power” between outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and incoming President Juan Manuel Santos, Caracol Radio reports.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for officers of the National Bolivarian Police, Chavez claimed that Uribe is trying to retain the power he has accumulated, causing a conflict with the incoming government.
Although Chavez recognized that both Colombian presidents are affiliated with the same political party, he insisted that they have “conflicts for power” because “they represent different groups.”
Chavez also accused the Uribe government of “exporting violence” to Venezuela and described the Colombian president as “defeated.”
The socialist leader added that Uribe had “gambled with aggressive, war-mongering politics” and now wanted to present himself as the “victim.”
According to Chavez “Colombia is more violent today, there is more drug trafficking and [Uribe] tries to shoot over here [saying] Chavez is to blame.”
The Venezuelan president said, “It is a lie that we are exporting the Bolivarian revolution over there.”
Chavez also reiterated his government’s commitment to fighting the drug’s trade, noting that Venezuela had deported twelve drug bosses so far this year, including the leader of the Colombian Norte de Valle cartel Carlos “Beto” Renteria, and had seized 910 kilos of marijuana on Sunday in Barinas, in south-west Venezuela.
Chavez’s comments come despite Santos’ denial Monday that a rift was developing between him and his mentor Uribe.
Following the revelation of the allegations, Chavez called the Venezuelan ambassador to Bogota back to Caracas for a meeting and threatened to “cut ties” with the neighboring country.
Caracas labelled the evidence “a pathetic media show.” Colombia’s neighbor to the east has always vehemently denied allegations that guerrillas are hiding in its territory, and maintains that Venezuela is not a guerrilla safe haven.
Venezuela broke diplomatic relations in 2009, after Colombia signed a pact that grants the U.S. military access to seven Colombian army bases. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez views the pact as an attempt to undermine regional sovereignty.
Chavez’s government has stated that it would not consider restoring relations while Uribe remained in office.
Colombian President-elect Santos professed himself to be “very pleased” after Chavez expressed willingness to reopen a dialogue with Colombia and attempt to re-establish severed ties.
Prior to Santos’ election on June 20, Chavez was vocal in his contempt for the former defense minister, whom he called “the number one Yankee lapdog of Colombia” and “a real mafioso.”
Before Colombia announced it had proof of guerrilla presence in Venezuela, Chavez had authorized a meeting between his Foreign Minister Maduro and the incoming Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, as a step towards repairing diplomatic ties.