Chavez said he knew “very well what President Uribe’s desperation is due to” and insisted “we will not fall for the provocations of President Uribe, who is a mafioso and is capable of anything in these last few days he has left, he is full of hatred.”
The Venezuelan president argued that Uribe’s government had “failed together with the U.S. empire of wanting to isolate Venezuela” and suggested that Colombia was “Following orders from the U.S. empire which wanted to diminish the moral stature of Venezuela.”
Even so, he expressed a desire to restore diplomatic relations, indicating that the Venezuelan government has “extended its hands” but will remain “alert to any attempt at abuse, violation of our territory.”
Referring to the incoming Colombian government headed by President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, Chavez said “The new Colombian government has a major obstacle and [that] is the old government that wants to blow up in hatred with internal bickering.” He added “this is nothing but the desperation of a group of the extreme right who surround Uribe and try to generate a major conflict to stop Santos and Colombia from establishing respectful relations with its sister Venezuela.”
Chavez also commented on the Venezuelan bourgeoisie’s support of the Colombian government’s allegations: “They continue having a party and endorsing all of Uribe’s lies, because of that I call them unpatriotic, they intend to return to govern.”
He continued, “but we who are reborn from our ashes like the phoenix will not permit this oligarchy and transnational forces to come and mess with Venezuela.”
According to RCN Radio, President Uribe had a meeting on Friday with top military commanders to discuss possible responses to comments made by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.
The foreign minister announced on Friday that Gustavo Marquez, the socialist nation’s ambassador to Bogota, had been recalled to Caracas for a consultation, following Colombia’s allegations that FARC and ELN guerrillas are hiding out in Venezuela.
He said “It seems the outgoing president of Colombia wants to close [his presidency] with a spectacular end to his work of destruction of relations with Venezuela,” adding that “the pathetic spectacle offered on Thursday is a desperate attempt to undermine the ground of a possible normalization of bilateral relations.”
An official press statement from the Colombian government released on Friday said “For six years the Colombian government kept up a patient dialogue with the Venezuelan government, in which on several occasions it gave information about the location of terrorists in this territory. Everything was unsuccessful with relation to guerrilla leaders. We must think again about going to the international authorities.”
Venezuela broke diplomatic relations altogether in 2009, after Colombia signed a pact granting 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 have stated that they will not consider restoring relations while Uribe remains 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.
However, on Friday morning the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that “the path of lies, aggression and disrespect towards Venezuela, always prevents the regularization of relations between the governments of our two countries. If this situation continues, the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela would evaluate to take very firm and strong political and diplomatic measures.”