President Hugo Chavez told his military on Sunday to be prepared for a
possible confrontation with Colombia, warning that Bogota’s plans to
increase the U.S. military presence at its bases poses a threat to
Chavez has issued near daily warnings that Washington could use
bases in Colombia to destabilize the region since learning of
negotiations to lease seven Colombian military bases to the United
“The threat against us is growing,” Chavez said. “I call on the people and the armed forces, let’s go, ready for combat!”
The socialist leader warned Colombia that “Venezuela’s military will respond if there’s an attack against Venezuela.”
said he would attend this week’s summit of the Union of South American
Nations in Quito, Ecuador, to urge his Latin American allies to
pressure Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to reconsider a pending
agreement to lease military bases to U.S. forces.
“We cannot ignore this threat,” Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, “Hello President.”
officials say Venezuela has no reason to be concerned, and that the
U.S. forces would help fight drug trafficking. The proposed 10-year
agreement, they claim, would not push the number of American troops and
civilian military contractors beyond 1,400 — the maximum currently
permitted by U.S. law.
Tensions between the neighboring South
American nations also have been heightened over Colombia’s disclosure
that three Swedish-made anti-tank weapons found at a rebel camp last
year had been purchased by Venezuela’s military.
accused Colombia of acting irresponsibly in its accusation that the
anti-tank rocket launchers sold to Venezuela in 1988 were obtained by
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Sweden confirmed
the weapons were originally sold to Venezuela’s military.
denies aiding the FARC. He claims the United States is using Colombia
as part of a broader plan to portray him as a supporter of terrorist
groups to provide justification for U.S. military intervention in
Chavez said Sunday that diplomatic relations with
Uribe’s government “remain frozen” even though he ordered Venezuela’s
ambassador to return to Colombia more than a week after he was recalled. (AP)