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    Default Chavez claims Colombian troops entered Venezuela

    Chavez claims Colombian troops entered Venezuela

    (AFP)
    – 21 hours ago


    Hugo Chavez

    CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez charged that Colombian troops entered Venezuela by crossing the Orinoco River, a move he warned was a "provocation" by his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe.

    "We are not talking about a patrol with a few soldiers that strayed over a border" into Venezuela, Chavez said on his weekly television show "Hello President," without indicating when the alleged incursion took place.

    "These troops crossed the Orinoco River in a boat and carried out an incursion into Venezuelan territory.

    "When our troops got there (the Colombian troops) had already gone away," added Chavez, a leftist populist who has very strained ties with the conservative Uribe, the United States' closest regional ally.

    Venezuela, along with many other Latin American nations, is incensed at a new agreement allowing the United States to use seven Colombian military bases.

    "The Yankees are starting to command the Colombian armed forces; they are the ones who are in charge, who are in charge of these provocations, who make up huge lies," said Chavez, who has long been a thorn in Washington's side.

    The Venezuelan president compared the situation in his country with the one in Panama before the United States invaded in 1989 during the Cold War.

    "That's the plan they would like to apply to me. But things are different here. Today's Venezuela is not 1989 Panama, and Latin America today is not the same as it was back in 1989, when they (the United States) did whatever they felt like across the region," Chavez said.

    Chavez also suggested preferential pricing for Venezuelan oil and oil derivatives may end for Colombia.

    "The supply should stop, they can buy it at the market price," he said. "Why should we be favoring Uribe's government that way?"

    Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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    Default Re: Chavez claims Colombian troops entered Venezuela

    Chavez urges military to be prepared for conflict

    By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER (AP) – 19 hours ago


    CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez told his military on Sunday to be prepared for a possible confrontation with Colombia, warning that Bogota's plans to increase the U.S. military presence at its bases poses a threat to Venezuela.

    Chavez has issued near daily warnings that Washington could use bases in Colombia to destabilize the region since learning of negotiations to lease seven Colombian military bases to the United States.

    "The threat against us is growing," Chavez said. "I call on the people and the armed forces, let's go, ready for combat!"

    The former paratroop commander said Colombian soldiers were recently spotted crossing the porous 1,400-mile (2,300-kilometer) border that separates the two countries and suggested that Colombia may have been trying to provoke Venezuela's military.

    "They crossed the Orinoco River in a boat and entered Venezuelan territory," Chavez said. "When our troops arrived, they'd already left."

    Chavez said Venezuela's foreign ministry would file a formal complaint and warned Colombia that "Venezuela's military will respond if there's an attack against Venezuela."

    Chavez said he would attend this week's summit of the Union of South American Nations in Quito, Ecuador, to urge his Latin American allies to pressure Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to reconsider plans to increase the U.S. military presence.

    "We cannot ignore this threat," Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, "Hello President."

    Chavez also halted shipments of subsidized fuel to Colombia, saying Venezuela should not be sending cheap gasoline to an antagonistic neighbor.

    "Let them buy it at the real price. How are we going to favor Uribe's government in this manner?" he said.

    Colombian officials say Venezuela has no reason to be concerned, and that the U.S. forces would help fight drug trafficking. The proposed 10-year agreement, they claim, would not push the number of American troops and civilian military contractors beyond 1,400 — the maximum currently permitted by U.S. law.

    Tensions between the neighboring South American nations also have been heightened over Colombia's disclosure that three Swedish-made anti-tank weapons found at a rebel camp last year had been purchased by Venezuela's military.

    Chavez has accused Colombia of acting irresponsibly in its accusation that the anti-tank rocket launchers sold to Venezuela in 1988 were obtained by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Sweden confirmed the weapons were originally sold to Venezuela's military.

    Chavez denies aiding the FARC. He claims the United States is using Colombia as part of a broader plan to portray him as a supporter of terrorist groups to provide justification for U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.

    Chavez said Sunday that diplomatic relations with Uribe's government "remain frozen" even though he ordered Venezuela's ambassador to return to Colombia more than a week after he was recalled.

    Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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    Default Re: Chavez claims Colombian troops entered Venezuela

    No more cheap oil for Colombia ... President Alvaro Uribe must show face to Unasur

    VHeadline News Editor Patrick J. O'Donoghue reports: Colombia has been high on President Chavez' agenda over the weekend. The Venezuelan Ambassador to Bogota. Gustavo Marquez Marin has been returned and Chavez met with local authorities and business sectors from border areas.

    The President, in the meantime, has ordered a suspension of oil supplies to Colombia, saying Colombia should pay oil prices "as they really are" and no longer at the cheaper rate that Venezuela allowed as a good neighbor.

    Chavez has admitted that purchases from Colombia have gone down and he regrets the fact that Colombian producers are being affected but challenges that they must pressure the Bogota government to respect Venezuela.

    The Colombian government has not replied to his counter-charge regarding the three Swedish AT-4 rocket launchers supposedly supplied to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by Chavez. Back in Colombia, President Uribe has managed to reassert his authority and neutralize efforts by Colombian border State Governors to intervene or mediate in the crisis between the two governments. Uribe has reminded them that foreign affairs are the exclusive right of the President and the Foreign Office.

    The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) will meet today in Quito (Ecuador) and Chavez has announced that he wants the organization to lodge an official complaint against the installation of US bases in South American territory. "Allowing any empire to install bases on South American territory is treason towards our peoples ... it betrays everything we have been doing in Unasur." According to Chavez, Colombia will end up as a colony of the United States and threats against other countries will be increased.

    On the home front, Chavez has announced that he will accelerate defense plans on all levels to confront the new US-Colombia war games.

    On Sunday evening, Chavez met with the Colombian left wing party, Polo Democratico and called the meeting "historic," since he commented that it had been a long time since he had spoken politically with leaders of the Colombian left and has given instructions to the PSUV to open formal relations with the Polo Democratico.

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    Default Re: Chavez claims Colombian troops entered Venezuela

    Chavez: US, Colombia 'threaten war'

    Chavez said that the US-Colombia deal would only heighten tensions across South America [EPA]
    Venezuela's president has criticised as a threat of war a deal between the US and Colombia allowing more US troops to operate on Colombian soil, during a summit of South American leaders in Ecuador.

    "The winds of war are beginning to blow… I am not going to allow them to do to Venezuela what they did to Ecuador," Hugo Chavez said on Monday at the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) talks in Quito, referring to a 2008 Colombian raid on a guerrilla camp in Ecuador.

    "We would respond militarily and decisively if the pro-war forces in Colombia, egged on by the United States, dare to launch aggression against Venezuela."

    Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian president, did not attend the talks, which came after he toured several South American nations to win support for the troops deal.

    Deal dominates summit
    The Unasur meeting was primarily concerned with the handover of the bloc's leadership from Michelle Bachelet, Chile's president, to Raphael Correa, who was sworn in as Ecuador's president for a second term on Monday.

    "Colombia thinks this is not a threat to anybody, while Chavez and Raphael Correa both said that letting the US use those bases does represent a threat - not only to Venezuela and Ecuador, but all the Unasur members"
    Dima Khatib, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Quito
    But Chavez's criticism of the US-Colombia dominated the summit, Dima Khatib, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Quito, said. "President Chavez of Venezuela, just before the group photo opportunity, broke the protocol and decided to speak about Colombia," she said.

    "The vice foreign minister of Colombia defended the decision to find an agreement with the US on the military bases - he said that the bases are not going to be US bases; they are Colombian bases that would be used by the US.

    "Colombia thinks this is not a threat to anybody, while Chavez and Raphael Correa both said that letting the US use those bases does represent a threat - not only to Venezuela and Ecuador, but all the Unasur members."

    Washington's plans to send troops to seven Colombian military bases has also been questioned by Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Brazil.

    Relationship deteriorating
    Chavez has called on governments across South America to sanction Colombia, who he accused on Sunday of recently sending an army patrol into Venezuelan territory.

    Bogota has said that no such mission took place.

    Colombia has had at least $5bn in mostly military aid from Washington in recent years to help combat drug smugglers and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), a left-wing armed group.

    The Colombian government has on several occasions accused Chavez of providing help to the Farc, claims that the Venezuelan leader has repeatedly denied.

    Venezuela recalled its diplomats from Colombia in July as relations between the two nations deteriorated.

    But trade between the countries has grown, with Venezuela buying Colombian farm produce and cars while exporting fuel and chemicals to its neighbour.

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    Default Re: Chavez claims Colombian troops entered Venezuela

    South American presidents agree on summit to discuss US military bases in Colombia

    JEANNETH VALDIVIESO Associated Press Writer 4:31 PM EDT, August 10, 2009

    QUITO, Ecuador (AP) —South American presidents expressed deep concerns Monday with a planned U.S. military expansion in Colombia, but failed to reach consensus on a joint statement rejecting U.S. long-term leases on Colombian bases.

    The leaders agreed to hold a presidential summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, later this month to discuss the matter after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez raised it during a ceremony to inaugurate Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa as temporary president of the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur.

    Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, of Brazil, Cristina Fernandez, of Argentina, Evo Morales, of Bolivia, Fernando Lugo, of Paraguay, and Ecuador's Correa also expressed unease with the plan.

    "I don't want to sabotage your ceremony Rafael ... (but) we are very worried," said Chavez, who added that he believes the bases will destabilize the region.

    "This could provoke a war in South America," Chavez said. During his weekly television and radio address Sunday the Venezuelan president told his military to be "ready for combat" in case of a Colombian provocation.

    Unasur is a continentwide alliance established to cool political tensions and streamline trade blocs, but efforts to forge a European Union-style international governing community have been stymied by the region's fractious politics. The organization's launch was postponed for several months last year following Colombia's cross-border raid in March on a guerrilla camp in Ecuador.

    Ecuador broke ties with Colombia over the attack and relations have further soured since Colombia released a video in which the FARC's No. 2 leader mentions contributions to Correa's 2006 presidential campaign.

    Correa's approval ratings spiked after the Colombian raid and he became the first Ecuadorean president in three decades to win re-election without a runoff in April. He assumed his new four-year term in a ceremony Monday after the Unasur summit.

    Chavez said Monday that a similar cross-border attack into Venezuela would be greeted with "a blunt military response."

    Tensions between Venezuela and Colombia have increased over Colombia's recent disclosure that three Swedish-made anti-tank weapons found at a rebel camp last year had been purchased by Venezuela's military.

    Colombian President Alvaro Uribe toured South America last week to defend his base agreement with the U.S., which he said is aimed at combating drug trafficking and leftist rebels. Peru was the only country to openly back the plan.

    Uribe did not visit Ecuador and Venezuela, the plan's staunchest opponents, nor did he attend the Unasur summit.

    U.S. officials haven't released details, but Colombians have said U.S. forces would have access to at least seven Colombian bases. They say there would be no more than 1,400 American personnel and contractors in the country.

    About 600 U.S. military personnel already work in Colombia and advisers have trained thousands of Colombian troops since 2000.

    Unasur foreign ministers could not reach a joint statement regarding the U.S. bases late Sunday, prompting Monday's impromptu debate, which also failed to produce a consensus.

    Silva called on President Barack Obama to meet with the region's presidents to explain the plan.

    "As president of Brazil, this climate of unease disturbs me," Silva said Monday. He agreed to a presidents' summit, to be held Aug. 27 following a meeting of foreign and defense ministers to study U.S. military presence in Colombia, which was agreed upon in pre-summit meetings late Sunday.

    "I think we should directly discuss our discontent with the American government — directly with them," he said.

    Silva said he was concerned with "information we receive about (U.S.) ambassadors that still intervene in internal electoral processes in their countries" and the reactivation of the U.S. Navy's Fourth Fleet.

    The Fourth Fleet, originally dissolved after World War II, was resurrected in April 2008. Based in Mayport, Florida, as part of the U.S. Southern Command, it deploys Navy ships, aircraft and submarines on humanitarian and counter-drug operations in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

    Last week in Brazil, the U.S. national security adviser, Jim Jones, acknowledged the deal could have been explained better to the region's leaders and said the U.S. would send military officials to interested countries "to make sure everybody understands what this is and what this isn't."

    Colombia's vice foreign minister defended the bases Monday, saying they will not affect outside nations.

    "The bases will continue to be completely under Colombian jurisdiction and sovereignty," said Clemencia Forero.

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    Default Re: Chavez claims Colombian troops entered Venezuela

    Brazil urges South America, U.S. summit over bases

    Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:15am IST

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    * Brazil, Argentina call for regional summit with U.S.
    * Venezuela, Ecuador warn of grave threat of bases
    * Colombia says will oversee U.S. troops in the country
    (Updates with South American call for summit with U.S. over Colombia bases plan)

    By Eduardo Garcia and Walker Simon

    QUITO, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday urged regional leaders to seek a summit with the United States to defuse tensions over a Colombian plan to allow U.S. troops more access to its military bases.

    The U.S. proposal to use seven Colombian bases has fueled a fight between U.S. ally Colombia and Andean leftist leaders in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia and also stirred concern from Chile and regional heavyweight Brazil.

    Monday's summit of the Unasur regional group in Quito was was called to hand over the group's presidency to Ecuador and discuss issues such as financial systems and counter-narcotics but the U.S.-Colombia base plan dominated. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce U.S. foe, and his allies blasted the proposal as an aggression.

    Washington has given Colombia, the world's No. 1 cocaine producer, more than $5 billion in aid to fight drug traffickers and rebels. It now wants to relocate a hub for anti-drug operations from Ecuador to Colombia.

    Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who did not attend Monday's summit, says the plan is an extension of existing accords.

    Colombia's defense minister will attend an Aug. 24 meeting with his South American counterparts to discuss the bases, a Colombian Foreign Ministry official told the summit.

    In proposing a summit with the United States to discuss the base plan, Lula said, "People will hear things that they don't like but we have to talk clearly. This will be resolved with conversation, with people showing up.

    "At a given movement, Unasur can call for a meeting with the United States to discuss topics of interest to the region."

    CHAVEZ SEES POTENTIAL TRAGEDY
    Uribe has toured South America to ease concern about the U.S. plan and more moderate governments said it was a sovereign matter. But leftists led by Chavez were furious and the socialist leader has taken economic measures against Colombia.

    "I have the moral obligation to warn about the danger," Chavez said. "This could be the start of a new tragedy ... The winds of war are beginning to blow."

    Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, who began a second term on Monday, called the base plan "an open provocation."

    Tensions have simmered in the Andes since last year when Colombian troops raided across the border to kill a Colombian FARC rebel commander in his camp in Ecuador. Venezuela and Ecuador briefly moved troops to their borders before the crisis was defused at a summit in the Dominican Republic.

    U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday denied the United States is planning to set up military bases in Colombia as part of the upgraded security agreement and said he has no intention of sending large numbers of additional troops.

    The plan is expected to increase the number of U.S. troops in Colombia above the current total of less than 300 but not above 800, the maximum permitted under the existing military pact, officials have said.

    "It is essential to call a meeting of the presidents of Unasur," said Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, offering to host a new summit. "A state of belligerency is being created in the region."

    (Editing by Patrick Markey and Bill Trott)

    © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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