Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday again accused Colombia of being a paramilitary and narco state.
In his weekly television broadcast ‘Alo Presidente’, Chavez accused Venezuela’s neighbor of trying to put the blame for the violence in Venezuelan border states on his government, when they were in fact carried out by Colombian paramilitaries who had infiltrated Venezuela.
“Imagine that the Colombian Government, that tries to accuse us …, the Government of Colombia that orders to kill people …, the multitude of massacres on farmers …, entire families wiped out by paramilitaries,” Spanish press agency EFE quoted the Venezuelan Head of State.
According to Chavez, Colombia “is a narco state, a paramilitary state, paramilitarism in the State. This is painful, but it is the truth.”
In the same broadcast, Venezuelan Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami told Chavez that 20% of violent crimes in Venezuela are committed by the police.
Amid growing tensions between Venezuela and Colombia, violence has worsened in Venezuelan border states Zulia and Tachira where kidnappings and extortion have been increasingly common over the past few years. According to leaked state figures, 10,000 people were murdered in Venezuela in 2008.
Chavez has repeatedly accused Colombia of exporting its right-wing paramilitary fighters to destabilize Chavez’s leftist government, and froze diplomatic relations after Colombia and the U.S. announced a plan to increase military cooperation in the countries’ fight against drug trafficking.