Venezuela urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to review the long-running military conflict in neighboring Colombia, which Caracas says is threatening peace and stability across Latin America.
It also said Bogota’s decision to allow U.S. military bases on Colombian soil would only make a bad situation worse.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro sent a letter to the 15-nation Security Council asking that it look into “the grave concern of the government of Venezuela at the Colombian armed conflict, which constitutes … a serious threat to international peace and security.”
The conflict “should form part of the work agenda of the Security Council,” Maduro said in the letter, sent to the current president of the council, Austrian Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting.
Earlier this month Colombia sent a letter to the Security Council denouncing what it said were Venezuela’s threats of force. The council has not acted on the Colombian complaint.
Tensions run high on the 1,375-mile (2,200-km) border, an area rife with Colombian FARC rebels still fighting a four-decade-old war and other groups engaged in smuggling cocaine, guns and other contraband.
Caracas’ U.N. Ambassador Jorge Valero told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that “the situation is aggravated by the installation of seven U.S. military bases on its territory.”
A stepped-up U.S. military presence was “transforming Colombia into a country subjected to a foreign power,” Valero said, adding that Washington should suspend its plans for the bases.
The United States, he said, would use its military presence to conduct “espionage and surveillance” of Venezuela.
Ties between the two countries have soured over a Colombian plan to allow U.S. troops more access to the country. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce critic of American influence in the region, says it sets the stage for a possible attack against his OPEC nation.
Valero did not elaborate on what, if any, specific steps Caracas would like the council to take. It was not immediately clear if council members would be willing to discuss what is widely seen as a bilateral dispute.
Last week Colombian President Alvaro Uribe ruled out any military retaliation against Venezuela after Venezuelan troops dynamited two cross-border footbridges. Caracas says it blew up the bridges because they were illegal border crossings used by drug traffickers and smugglers.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has already told his military commanders to “prepare for war.” Valero reiterated that Venezuela was prepared to take action if necessary.
“Our government will take the necessary measures to safeguard … the security of the nation, the peace and the welfare of the Venezuelan people,” he said.