Assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, said on Friday that no government should interfere in another government’s elections, after El Tiempo asked him about his government’s stance on the escalating tension that exists between Colombian presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
“It is very important not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. It is not our place to speak out in favor of one candidate or another. This is a decision that will have to be made by the voters in each country and we respect the sovereign decision of the population,” Valenzuela replied, without referring explicitly to Chavez or Venezuela.
Last Monday Chavez called Santos a “wolf dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood,” because of the way he is “going around searching for votes” and said that “as president, Santos could cause a war in this part of the world.”
The Colombian politician responded that he would ignore the remarks from Chavez, saying, “To foolish words, deaf ears.”
Santos and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe both accused Chavez of meddling in Colombia’s presidential campaign, but the Venezuelan leader denied that he is trying to influence the outcome of the election.
Relations between Colombia and Venezuela have been rocky for years, but frictions have worsened in recent months over Colombia’s agreement to give the U.S. increased access to its military bases – a deal that Chavez calls a threat to regional sovereignty.