Venezuela is “building a Berlin Wall against Colombia” by implementing an illegal embargo against the Andean nation’s economy, Colombian President Alavro Uribe said Wednesday.
Uribe, in Portugal to attend a Heads of State Ibero-american Summit , criticized Venezuelan President Alvaro Uribe for not attending the meeting and spoke out against Venezuela’s suspension of trade with Colombia.
“What has happened in Venezuela is an embargo. There is an embargo in Venezuela against the Colombian economy. And it is illegal, unjust,” El Tiempo quoted the Colombian Head of State as saying Wednesday..
“A Berlin Wall is being created against Colombia. And that worries me, because it generates distrust. Other countries in the region are taking advantage of it and have entered into the Venezuelan market to substitute Colombian products,” Uribe added.
Venezuela froze diplomatic ties and imposed trade sanctions on Colombia in July after Colombia announced that it would sign a military agreement with the U.S. allowing the North American country access to seven of its military bases.
Venezuela sees the military pact as a threat to its sovereignty.
The biggest effect of the crisis so far has been the fall in trade. The Colombian-Venezuelan chamber of commerce estimates bilateral trade this year could fall 20 percent from 2008. Trade between the two countries dropped 57 percent in October.
Uribe said that Venezuela’s embargo contradicts its criticism of the U.S. ongoing trade embargo against Cuba. The Colombian President said his government “has been completely respectful in all of its comments on the Venezuelan government. Here there have been no insults nor mistreatment”.
Relations between the two nations became more strained in November when Chavez called on his nation to prepare for war, a statement he later retracted, saying he had been misinterpreted.
Tensions continue to simmer, especially along the border. The latest incident involved 412 Colombians and 40 Brazilians who were forcibly expelled from Venezuela and allegedly mistreated after the illegal gold mine they were working for was closed down.
Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva denounced the incident as an abuse of human rights.
Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizalez defended his country’s actions Tuesday, claiming the expulsion was an “act of sovereignty,” Venezuelan publication El Nacional reported Wednesday.
Carrizalez said that this was not a case of “the closing of a mine leaving humble workers unemployed” because the mine was operating illegally in the Amazon. The Vice President accused the Colombian government of using the miners for political gain.
Carrizlez claimed that Silva’s accusations are part of a media campaign against Venezuela as part of an “ongoing scheme of aggression, supported by the armed forces of the United States”.