Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe on Monday asked his Defense Minister Gabriel Silva to refrain from making public statements about Venezuela without first consulting him.
Uribe was responding to a statement Silva made hours earlier in regards to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s plan to develop “peasant militias” across his country.
Silva was quoted as saying that Colombia was worried by Venezuelan plans for the militias, and that, “What especially worries us is that no controls exist in regards to the militias or privately armed groups, and that [their] weapons will end up filtering down or being sold to delinquents, narco-terrorists, drug traffickers and criminal gangs,” reported El Tiempo.
Uribe, who is currently in Mexico attending the Rio Group Summit with other Latin American leaders, responded to Silva’s comments shortly after, saying, “I feel obliged, from Mexico, to ask that members of the government, in this case, the minister of defense, do not make declarations about Venezuela, at least without my consultation.”
Silva’s fears stem out of the possibility that the arms provided to the Venezuelan militias will end up in the hands of illegally armed groups in Colombia. According to Silva, in the last seven years, they have captured more than 10,000 illegal guns in Colombia, many of which came from Venezuela.
According to Chavez, the “peasant militias” will not be “paramilitary forces like the brainy analysts always want to see … On the contrary, the Bolivarian Militia … like the community councils, are expressions of the new communal state; an integral part of the new communal power structures that we are building,” as reported by the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA).