President Hugo Chavez 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,” Chavez said.
“A military aggression is being prepared,” Chavez 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,” Chavez said. “The invaders would have to step over our dead bodies.”
Chavez 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.
Relations between the two countries have sharply deteriorated since a dispute that erupted during Chavez’s mediation efforts to free hostages held by Colombian rebels.
Chavez spoke as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Colombia, saying she and two other senior American officials who have visited Bogota recently “came to attack Venezuela” in their remarks. Rice did not mention Chavez during her earlier statements in Colombia.
Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, spokesman for Colombian President Uribe, said his government had no immediate comment.
Chavez said he expects relations with Colombia, which he and Uribe once managed to maintain cordial “are going to continue deteriorating,” predicting that it will hurt cross-border trade.