Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday he will evaluate all bilateral relations with Colombia after “losing confidence” in his counterpart Juan Manuel Santos who “stabbed Venezuela in the back” by meeting with that country’s opposition leader.
The Venezuelan president appeared on national television Thursday evening to clarify his government’s fury that followed opposition leader’s Henrique Capriles meeting with the Colombian president and the chairmen of both Colombia’s Senate and House.
In his speech, the Venezuelan president said Santos had violated a deal made with Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, in which the Colombian president allegedly committed to not meddle in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Additionally, Maduro reaffirmed earlier claims that Colombian and Venezuelan elites are conspiring to topple his government.
“I am very sad that President Santos has broken the rules of the game established in Santa Marta. I am sad the Colombian oligarchy and the powers of Colombia, all have gathered around the objective of rejecting the legitimate government of Venezuela and to topple the revolutionary government I represent,” said Maduro.
“I have a lot of information. I have a lot of information sources that tell me that the entire Colombian establishment has found agreement and believes that the moment has arrived for them to — from Bogota — topple me in Venezuela,” the Venezuelan president added.
Maduro specified that he has “exact information that there has been a meeting with [Venezuelan spin doctor] J.J. Rendon during which [Capriles], together with [former Colombian President Alvaro] Uribe, presented a plan, which they have qualified as the perfect plan, to topple me and to fill Venezuela with violence … I am sad that … Santos lent himself for this game.”
“I can not accept that from Bogota they conspire against Venezuela,” said Venezuela’s head of state.
Because of Santos’ alleged “betrayal” and “stab in the back,” Maduro said to “have doubts whether we should continue” supporting peace talks between the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, which is accompanied by the Venezuelan government and, according to Maduro, was prepared by himself and Chavez.
“I have spent hours and hours of work to help Colombia. Now they are going to pay us this way? With betrayal? … I have lost confidence in President Santos …and he will have to prove me wrong … I doubt his intentions to make peace. And I am telling you here that I am evaluating whether Venezuela continues with this process or not.”
Santos and his foreign minister, Maria Angela Holguin, have maintained an almost absolute silence related to Venezuela since the president’s meeting with Capriles. Holguin said Thursday her government will contact that of Venezuela directly “and without microphones.”
According to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Bogota did so on Thursday.
Venezuela has not spoken this harshly about its neighbor since Santos took office in August 2010 and made the improvement of the relationship between the two countries a top priority. Before Santos assumed power, Venezuela had frozen relations in 2010 over accusations by Uribe, who accused the Chavez administration of aiding the FARC.
- Speech Nicolas Maduro
- Gobierno inicia contactos mientras Venezuela endurece el tono (El Tiempo)