Chavez: “Colombia is the Israel of Latin America.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez labeled Colombia the "Israel of Latin America" yesterday after the Colombian military made an illegal cross border attack in Ecuador. The Venezuelan leader called Colombia a "terrorist state," and gave orders to mobilize troops on the Venezuelan-Colombian border.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez orders troops to the Colombian border (Rueters)

Monday, March 03, 2008 ( – Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez labeled Colombia the "Israel of Latin America" on his
Sunday talk show Aló Presidente yesterday.
Responding to events on Saturday in which the Colombian military made an illegal
attack across the border in Ecuadorian territory, the Venezuelan leader called
Colombia a "terrorist state," and gave orders to mobilize troops on the
Venezuelan-Colombian border.

"The Colombian government has turned into the Israel of
Latin America," said Chavez during his show on Sunday.

"Colombia is a terrorist state that is subject to the great
terrorist, the government of the United States and their apparatus," he

The Venezuelan president spoke in response to an attack and
killing on the part of the Colombian military of several FARC guerrillas,
including top leader Raul Reyes, on Saturday morning. Chavez called the killing
a "cowardly murder" and condemned the attack for having illegally crossed the
Colombian border into Ecuador.

"They bombed from the north and the south of the border," he
said. "In other words, they attacked inside Ecuadorian territory."

President Chavez spoke on the telephone with Ecuadorian
President Rafael Correa about the attack and the violation of Ecuador's
sovereignty. According to Correa, who ordered an investigation of the events,
the Colombian military attacked the guerrillas using precision bombs while they
were sleeping inside Ecuadorian territory, killing at least 15 men and women,
and leaving two female guerrillas injured. The Ecuadorian military said the
bodies were still in their pajamas when they found them.

"This was not a battle. It was a cowardly murder," said
Chavez. "This was all coldly calculated, and the truth is starting to come

Chavez offered any necessary support to his Ecuadorian
counterpart and informed his audience that the government of Ecuador would be
withdrawing their ambassador from Bogota, and mobilizing troops to the
Colombian border. Chavez gave orders during the show for his government to do
the same.

"Move ten battalions to the border with Colombian
immediately," he said to his defense minister. "We don't want war, but we are
not going to allow the North American empire, which is their master, and their
puppy-dog President Uribe and the Colombian oligarchy to come divide us, to
weaken us. We are not going to allow

The Venezuelan president then gave orders to his foreign
minister to close the Venezuelan embassy in Bogota and withdraw all the
officials that work there, bringing relations between the countries to their
lowest point in recent history.

Chavez sharply criticized Colombian President Alvaro Uribe,
accusing him of leading a "criminal" government, and warned the Colombian
leader that any kind of incursion into Venezuelan territory on the part of the
Colombian military would be a cause for war between the two countries.

"This is very serious. If this were to happen in Venezuela
it would be a cause for war," said Chavez. "Don't even think about it or I'll launch
an air attack."

Chavez compared the actions of the Colombian government to
those of Israel in the Middle East who he accused of "invading," "bombing," and
"killing" the Palestinian people with the intention of "preventing the union of
the Arabic world."

"It is the fist of the empire," he said. "And we're not
going to let them plant another Israel here in Latin America."

Washington, who supports the Colombian war against the FARC
and provides the Colombian government with more military aid than any other
country outside the Middle East, said it was monitoring events in the region.

Crime Prevention

Earlier in the show, President Chavez spoke with police and
security forces in Caracas about how to reduce the level of crime in the
country. Although he reported that crime has fallen significantly in the last
year, Chavez discussed plans to better coordinate forces in the fight against
crime, and to focus on prevention.

He also announced a raise in the salaries for public
officials like police officers, firefighters, and other security forces.

Chavez ended the show with the approval of more than Bs.F.
123 million (US$ 57 million) to finance public works to improve roads and
public spaces around the city of Caracas.