Venezuela says great probability of military aggression by Colombia, urges dialogue

Monday, July 26, 2010

Venezuela warns of aggression, seeks dialogue

UNITED NATIONS — Venezuela warned Monday that there is a greater probability of military action by Colombian forces supported by the United States than in the past 100 years and expressed hope that Colombia’s incoming president will signal a change in policy that leads to restoration of diplomatic relations between the two South American countries.

Venezuela’s U.N. Ambassador Jorge Valero asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a meeting Monday afternoon to distribute a letter to the other U.N. member states which expresses hope that President-elect Juan Manuel Santos does not follow “the warmongering plans” of the U.S. government and Colombia’s outgoing President Alvaro Uribe.

It also expresses hope that Santos, who takes office on Aug. 7, “gives clear and unambiguous signals that it has the political will to resume the path of dialogue, taking into consideration that the current government of Colombia has severed all diplomatic bridges with Venezuela.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez cut off diplomatic relations with Colombia last Thursday after Uribe’s government presented photos, videos and maps of what it said were Colombian rebel camps inside Venezuela. Chavez called it an attempt to smear his government and said Uribe could be trying to lay the groundwork for an armed conflict though Colombia has not threatened military action.

In the letter, Valero went further saying Venezuela denounced “the new and false smear campaign” led by Uribe just a few days before the end of his term as “part of a systematic and warmongering strategy to justify a foreign military aggression against Venezuela.”

“The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela considers that in this moment there is a probability, as it never existed in the last 100 years, of a foreign military aggression against Venezuela, from Colombia, with the support of the government of the United States,” the letter said.

While vehemently denying Colombia’s allegations that Venezuela gives haven to Colombian rebels, Venezuela did concede in the letter that Colombia’s armed conflict sometimes spilled across the border.

On Sunday, Chavez threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States if Venezuela is attacked by Colombia, which would deal a major economic blow to Venezuela’s economy. The U.S. is the top buyer of oil from Venezuela — and Venezuela is the U.S.’ fifth largest supplier.

Valero said that in Sunday’s speech Chavez also denounced an assassination plan against him, which he claimed “is being prepared by the government of Colombia, with the support of the government of the United States.”

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied Chavez’s accusations of supporting plots against him, and have said Colombia is raising legitimate concerns to which Venezuela should respond.

Venezuela urged the Colombian people to “raise their voices” against those promoting military intervention, he said.

It also warned that “the growing and dangerous” U.S. military presence on Colombian soil and the U.S. naval presence in Latin America and the Caribbean “is directed against the progressive governments of the region, and represents a great threat to the peace and security of the continent,” Valero said.

The Venezuelan ambassador stressed that the government and people of his country “profess a deep love for the brother people of Colombia” and expressed hope that bilateral relations can be restored despite the current difficult circumstances.

Colombia said it went to the Organization of American States last week to present evidence about the rebels’ presence in Venezuela because Chavez’s government has not addressed the situation.

Valero said the OAS has demonstrated its uselessness on several occasions and said Venezuela is planning to launch a new Latin American-Caribbean organization next year.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday that “We have no intention of engaging in military action against Venezuela.”

Crowley also told reporters that Colombia had “presented a persuasive case” about the presence of rebels in Venezuela and “these are serious charges.”

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