Venezuelan Ambassador and Staff Withdrawn from Colombia

On
Tuesday night Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the withdrawal of the
Venezuelan ambassador and diplomatic staff from Colombia, following US military
build up in Colombia and Colombia's accusations that Venezuela had supplied the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with weapons.
By Tamara Pearson – Venezuelanalysis.com

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President Chavez speaking on national television on Tuesday night (Prensa Presidencial)
President Chavez speaking on national television on Tuesday night (Prensa Presidencial)
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Mérida,
July 30th, 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - On Tuesday night Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez ordered the withdrawal of the Venezuelan ambassador and
diplomatic staff from Colombia, following US military build up in Colombia and
Colombia's accusations that Venezuela had supplied the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC) with weapons.

"We're
going to freeze relations with Colombia," Chavez said.

Chavez
also said the government would examine Venezuela's economic relations with
Colombia and the possibility of substituting imports from Colombia with those
from other countries. "If the Colombian government thinks we're dependent on
its imports, it's mistaken," he said.

He
warned that if Colombia continued verbally attacking Venezuela, "We will end our
relations, in every respect." That could include expropriating Colombian companies
on Venezuelan territory, he said.

In
response to Chavez's pronouncements, Jose Insulza, general secretary of the
Organisation of America States (OAS) called on the two countries not to
retaliate economically, and offered the services of the organisation to
facilitate dialogue.

The
Colombian government, in a press release yesterday, reiterated its accusation
that Venezuela was "supplying" weapons to the FARC, a Colombian guerrilla
organization. Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos said on Monday that
weapons seized from a FARC camp last year were purchased by Venezuela in the
1980s.

The
accusations followed comments by Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Nicolas
Maduro last week that the recent expansion of US access to Colombian military
bases will strengthen troops, technology and weaponry that could be used
against the Latin American region and especially Venezuela.

On
Tuesday, Chavez also said that Venezuela had recently captured nine Colombian
drug trafficking leaders. "Imagine if one of these drug traffickers had
obtained a gun here in Venezuela that said ‘A. Uribe'. Then I come out, the
president of Venezuela, without investigating anything, and I say that
president Uribe is giving weapons to drug traffickers... how irresponsible!"

Chavez
said a lot of the weapons the FARC use are manufactured in Russia, Israel, and
the United States. "Colombia might have to complain to the United States as
well!" said the president.

Education
Minister Hector Navarro also commented sarcastically yesterday, "The
ultra-right is so creative that surely there'd be some of them saying that the
weapons sent to Cuba by the [Venezuelan] government of Wolfgang Larrazabal in
1958 to support the Cuban guerrilla struggle were sent by President Chavez."

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