Venezuela Declares Commitment to Peace and Dialogue, Prepares Defense of Natural Resources

In response to Colombia’s complaint to the United Nations about Venezuela’s “threats of war” earlier this week, Venezuela reiterated its intention to promote peaceful international relations while defending its sovereignty against a potential attack from Colombia.
Venezuelans march in Caracas against the Colombia-U.S. military  deal (YVKE)

Mérida, November 13, 2009 (– In response to Colombia’s complaint to the United Nations about Venezuela’s “threats of war” earlier this week, Venezuela reiterated its intention to promote peaceful international relations while defending its sovereignty against a potential attack from Colombia, which recently signed a military pact with the United States.

Several Venezuelan officials publicly declared this week that Colombia had intentionally distorted President Hugo Chavez’s assertions from last Sunday, when Chavez said that Venezuela is prepared to defend itself and its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves against foreign aggression. Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Nicolas Maduro called Colombia’s complaint to the U.N. part of a “script for a dirty war against Venezuela,” and said Colombia is attempting to divert attention from its military deal with the U.S.

“From the moral point of view, for our region, for the world, and for Colombians, it is impossible to justify completely handing over Colombia and turning it into a military platform for the U.S.,” said Maduro.

Maduro added that the Venezuelan Armed Forces are organized around a “fundamentally defensive concept,” and emphasized “the pacifist vocation of solidarity and cooperation of Chavez and his government is well known in South American and the Caribbean.”

President Chavez said Colombia’s accusations were paradoxical. “They condemn as aggressors those who are threatened and attacked… it’s the school of the upside down world… they call us the menacing aggressors,” said Chavez.

On October 30th, Colombia and the U.S. signed a deal that will expand U.S. military operations on seven Colombian bases and grant immunity to U.S. personnel. While the U.S. state department says the operations will be confined to combating drug trafficking and insurgents in Colombia, U.S. Air Force budgetary documents reveal plans for “full spectrum operations” and clandestine intelligence gathering across the hemisphere.

On Sunday, Chavez warned the U.S. government that starting a war with Venezuela could provoke a disastrous regional war, and he ordered the Venezuelan armed forces to prepare to defend Venezuela against a potential attack.

In response, the Colombian Foreign Relations Ministry sent a letter to Austrian Ambassador to the U.N. Thomas Mayr-Harting, who heads the U.N. Security Council, denouncing “Venezuela’s threats of the use of force against Colombia.” Colombia sent a similar letter to the Organization of American States.

A diplomat from the Austrian mission to the U.N. confirmed that Colombia’s letter had been received and distributed to the members of the Security Council, but said that the letter did not call for any specific actions by the U.N.

Venezuela has repeatedly argued that the U.S. plans to use its military power to destabilize left-leaning governments in Latin America and, in the words of Trade Minister Eduardo Saman, “take control of our oil and our natural riches.”

“We Venezuelans must be prepared to defend our natural resources in the face of the imminent threat of an attack against our country by an empire that is in crisis,” Saman told the press on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Venezuelan Communications Minister Blanca Eekhout said that the U.S. seeks to provoke a war between Colombia and Venezuela in order to disrupt the process of economic and political integration that Venezuela and other anti-imperialist governments are carrying out in South America.

Eekhout reaffirmed Venezuela’s commitment to dialogue and opposition to war. “Venezuela does not want war between brothers. It will not accept a fratricidal war, and for this reason the Venezuelan state has always sought mechanisms of dialogue,” said Eekhout in a press conference.

The minister also said the “exportation” of Colombia’s four decade-old civil war to Venezuela “has been a means of trying to disturb the development and balance that this nation needs in order to create the democracy and the socialist republic that we are constructing.”

For many years, illegal armed groups from Colombia, including right wing paramilitaries and leftist insurgents, as well as drug traffickers and civilian refugees have illegally crossed into Venezuelan territory, causing diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

During a U.N. debate on the effects of armed conflict on civilian populations on Thursday, Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.N., Jorge Valero, said the Colombia-U.S. military deal could intensify Colombia’s four decade-old civil war, which has driven three million Colombian refugees into Venezuela, according to U.N. figures.

“The government of Colombia has been capable of ceding its sovereignty before accepting the existence of an internal armed conflict in its country that produces terrible displacements of human beings,” said Valero.

On Friday, thousands of Venezuelans from the largest political party in the country, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, marched in Caracas to express their opposition to the military deal between Colombia and the U.S.