Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe told a U.S. diplomatic mission that the threat posed by his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez in Latin America was comparable to that of Hitler in Europe in the 1930s, leaked diplomatic cables released Friday showed.
In the cable, dated December 6, 2007, Uribe explained to a delegation of U.S. congressmen why he had suspended Chavez and then-Senator Piedad Cordoba as mediators to seek the release of hostages held by the FARC.
Uribe said Chavez was trying to create a "personal empire," and had
expansionist plans in the region for his model of "new socialism."
Chavez' model violated democratic values such as freedom of the press,
local elections, and independence of the Central Bank. He likened the
threat Chavez poses to Latin America to that posed by Hitler in Europe.
In a cable sent from Bogota a month and a half later, then-Ambassador William Brownfield wrote that Uribe feared that Chavez could use Colombian guerrilla groups as “a militia inside Colombia to combat its democratic government.”
Asked by the Chairman how much help Chavez gave the FARC, Uribe replied
that Chavez has a five to seven year plan to advance his Bolivarian
agenda in Colombia. He has created popular militias inside Venezuela
(apart from the Armed Forces) to sustain his revolution. The GOC
believes Chavez thinks he could use the FARC as his militia inside
Colombia to combat its democratic government. Chavez remains committed
to bring down both Uribe and his government, as the primary obstacles to
his Bolivarian expansionist dreams. With no clear Colombian presidential
successor, a well financed candidate favoring Chavez might find space in
2010. The best counter to Chavez, in Uribe's view, remains action --
including use of the military.
The right-wing Uribe and leftist Chavez clashed frequently during the administrations of the Colombian President between 2002 and 2010. Venezuela broke all diplomatic relations with its neighbors weeks before Uribe left office, after the Colombian government accused Venezuela of harboring terrorists.