January 26, 2008
CARACAS -- President Hugo Chávez on Friday accused neighboring Colombia and the United States of plotting a military ''aggression'' against Venezuela.
''I accuse the government of Colombia of devising a conspiracy, acting as a pawn of the U.S. empire, of devising a military provocation against Venezuela,'' Chávez said.
''A military aggression is being prepared,'' Chávez added. He did not offer evidence to support his claim.
But he warned Colombia not to attempt a ''provocation'' and said Venezuela would cut off all oil exports in the event of a military strike from the neighboring country.
''In that scenario, write it down: The price of oil would reach $300, because there wouldn't be oil for anyone,'' Chávez said. ``The invaders would have to step over our dead bodies.''
Chávez has repeatedly accused Washington of plotting to oust or kill him, though it was the first time he has accused Colombia's U.S.-allied government in such strident terms.
He spoke as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Colombia, saying she and two other senior American officials who have visited Bogotá recently ''came to attack Venezuela'' in their remarks. Rice did not mention Chávez during her earlier statements in Colombia.
César Mauricio Velásquez, spokesman for Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, said his government had no immediate comment.
Chávez predicted that relations with Colombia -- which he and Uribe have managed to keep cordial until recently, despite wide ideological differences -- ''are going to continue deteriorating'' and that cross-border trade will suffer.