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2009-12-07

Uribe accuses Chávez of creating a "Berlin Wall against Colombia"

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe addresses the people of Cucuta on the Venezuelan border, Nov. 21, 2009. REUTERS/Jose Gomez

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe addresses the people of Cucuta on the Venezuelan border, Nov. 21, 2009. REUTERS/Jose Gomez

Monday, Dec. 7

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has claimed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his government are "building a Berlin Wall against Colombia," in reference to the blockade that Caracas has imposed on its neighbor's products.

Meanwhile, Venezuela has accused Bogotá of "preparing a military incursion," a claim emphatically denied by Colombian authorities.

Uribe described the "economic embargo" applied by the Venezuelan government against Colombia as "illegal and unjust," and, reported El Tiempo, believes it to be retaliation for Bogotá's decision to sign a cooperation agreement with Washington. "After complaining about the embargo on Cuba, now Venezuela is blockading Colombia," Uribe said. Chávez, according to Reuters, has reduced commercial exchange with Colombia to zero after a milestone year in 2008 of over US$7 billion in trade.

Venezuelan Vice President Ramón Carrizález accused Colombia of preparing a military incursion against his country, reported AFP, similar to the operation against a clandestine FARC rebel base camp in Ecuador on Mar. 1, 2008. This action, which marked the beginning of the deterioration of relations between the governments of Caracas and Bogotá, resulted in the death of the guerrilla leader known as “Raul Reyes.” "The Colombian government is preparing an attack like the one it carried out in Ecuador, and we have to tell to the world," said Carrizález.

However, Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva denied these alleged plans and reiterated that his government would "not to be provoked despite these insults," quoted La Prensa. "The facts speak for themselves," said Silva, recalling that Uribe's policy has been to "endure the insults" of the Venezuelan government.

In July, reported AFP, Chávez froze diplomatic relations with Colombia after Bogotá announced a cooperation agreement with Washington allowing U.S. troops to use military bases for joint operations against Colombian narco-terrorism. The crisis deepened after Chávez urged the Venezuelan military to "prepare for war" and troops dynamited two pedestrian bridges at the border.

Given this scenario, reported EFE, Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández said he was willing to mediate in the diplomatic crisis at Uribe’s request.

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