Hugo Chavez: His talks with Colombian rebels

have resulted in friction with Colombia's leader

and talk of war with the U.S. and Colombia.



La Capital, Argentina

Chavez Warns

'U.S. Pawn' Uribe

of Impending War


"I accuse the Government of Colombia of devising a belligerent provocation … an act of war against Venezuela, on orders from the United States, to which we will be obliged to respond in a way that could ignite a war. … Uribe is a pawn of Washington … he is a coward, a liar, a troublemaker, and a manipulator … a man like this doesn't merit being the president of anything, let alone a country."


Translated By Paula van de Werken


January 26, 2008


Argentina - La Capital - Original Article (Spanish)

In a further escalation of tension between the two countries, the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, accused Colombia’s President, Alvaro Uribe, of "devising a belligerent provocation," on orders from the United States, "that could ignite a war."


"I accuse the Government of Columbia of plotting a conspiracy, an act of war against Venezuela, on orders from the United States,  to which we will be obliged to respond in a way that could ignite a war," said Chavez during a press conference alongside his colleague Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua.


The press conference, held on the eve of the Sixth Summit Meeting of ALBA [Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America - Chavez' answer to Free Trade Agreements with the U.S.], the Venezuelan leader stressed that it was no coincidence that three senior officials of the United States, including Condoleezza Rice, had been in Colombia during the past few days.


"I am warning the world that an act of military aggression against Venezuela is being prepared by the United States, to be launched from Columbia.  It is part of Operation Balboa, which is what the operation against Venezuela is called," he declared.


"We have intelligence information about the plan, our own as well as from other Latin American countries. Rice’s visit is not a casual one, nor is that of the so-called "Drug Czar" John Walters, nor that of the American military commander (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Commander Admiral Michael Mullen," Chavez said.


Chavez insisted that Columbia had become the "aircraft carrier" from which Washington is preparing its aggression against Venezuela and its Government. "Uribe is a pawn of Washington," said the Venezuelan leader, as he did last Sunday when, during his program "Hello President," he called his Colombian colleague, "a coward, a liar, a troublemaker, and a manipulator" and said that "a man like this doesn't merit being the president of anything, let alone a country."


He maintained that Uribe would go down on history as, "a pathetic peon of Imperial North America," and he considered that recent "attacks" against the Venezuelan people and himself have originated in Columbia. "In recent days, the Colombian oligarchy has asked for reinforcements to attack," he claimed last Sunday, referring to declarations by U.S. officials that questioned Venezuela's role in the fight against drug-trafficking.


This latest escalation of tension between the neighboring countries coincides with a conflict situation on the border they share, and where Venezuelan authorities have deployed military check-points to prevent the smuggling of basic food-stuffs.


The crisis between Caracas and Bogota flared again on January 11, when Chavez proposed removing the label of terrorism from the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia [FARC] and the National Liberation Army [ELN], also of Colombia. He suggested that they stop being called terrorists, and be given the status of, "true armies WATCH ."


The proposal - immediately rejected by Bogota as well as the United States and European Union - was made by the Venezuelan President a day after the release of two hostages, Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo, by the FARC guerilla group WATCH .


The two abductees, whose freedom had been promised by FARC in order to "make it up" to Chavez for having been prevented by Uribe from playing a role as mediator in the Colombian conflict, were turned over on January 10 to a Venezuelan-led mission that with Bogotá's permission, rescued them from the jungles of Colombia.


That same day, Uribe thanked Chavez for his efforts toward securing the release of the two hostages, and the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry responded with gratitude for the "recognition" of the work by the Venezuelan Chief of State. The friendly exchange didn’t survive 24 hours, as the next day Chavez proposed dropping the FARC and ELN from the list of terrorist organizations and tension returned to relations between the two countries, which had begun to deteriorate in November, when Uribe had first put an end to mediation efforts by his Venezuelan colleague.


Last August, Chavez, with the permission of the Colombian Government, began his efforts to facilitate a humanitarian exchange of 46 hostages held by the FARC for 500 guerillas prisoners [being held by Colombian authorities?] But his efforts were abruptly terminated in November by Bogota, which resulted in the escalation of tension, fueled by  accusations and counter-accusations, and even insults.


"I hope that the more sensible people surrounding Uribe realize that this could lead to a major catastrophe that would even reach the oligarchy behind all of this, because it will lead to bankruptcy and economic collapse," warned Daniel Ortega. The Nicaraguan leader arrived in Caracas today, to participate for the Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America summit meting.

































[WM Posted January 28, 2008]