Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez on Saturday ordered his ambassador
back to Colombia a few days after withdrawing him amid a crisis over
plans to increase the number of U.S. troops in the neighboring country.
Consistent U.S. critic Chavez pulled his ambassador from Bogota on
July 28 to protest Colombian plans to accept more U.S. troops at seven
military bases and in anger at accusations he had supplied arms to
Marxist rebels across the border.
But in a surprise announcement after an hours-long late-night
meeting, Chavez delighted peace advocates Colombians for Peace by reversing the decision.
“Nicolas, our ambassador Gustavo has given you all the reports he
was going to, let him go back to Bogota. Return to Bogota Gustavo,”
Chavez said to his Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and the ambassador,
In recent days he has also threatened sanctions against the
Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol and said he would block some car
imports from one of Venezuela’s top trade partners.
Colombia says the extra U.S. troops are needed to help fight drug
traffickers. but Chavez sees them as a threat against Venezuela. He
says the plans could spark war in South America.
The socialist president frequently makes fiery threats against
Colombia and its president, Alvaro Uribe, whose government says Chavez
supports the FARC guerrillas who have fought Bogota for over four
decades. Chavez usually backs down and seeks to make peace within a few
Colombia last month said weapons bought by Venezuela in Sweden had made their way to the FARC rebels. Chavez said these weapons were stolen before he took power.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday denied that Washington was opening new military bases in Colombia, comments Chavez dismissed as not credible. (Reuters)