CHAVEZ:U.S. & COLUMBIA PREPPING FOR WAR ON VENEZUALA

Chavez Says U.S., Colombia Have Made ‘Pact for War’ (Update2)

By Daniel Cancel

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the U.S. and Colombian governments have made a “pact for war” with a deal to allow American troops to use facilities at seven military bases.

Chavez said the U.S. will use technology installed at the bases to spy and plan attacks on strategic targets in Venezuela, and that President Barack Obama is following the same path as his predecessor, George W. Bush.

“We’ve condemned the war pact between the governments of Uribe and Obama,” Chavez said in comments on state television, referring to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. “It’s a pact for war, a diabolic pact, and they lie to their people.”

Venezuela, the largest oil producer in Latin America, must prepare for the defense of the country by reorganizing the armed forces and arming civil militias due to the threat of a U.S. invasion from Colombian territory, Chavez said.

Colombian officials say that the military agreement is designed to fight drug-trafficking in the Andean nation and have filed complaints over Chavez’s comments with the United Nations and Organization of American States.

Relations between Venezuela and Colombia have deteriorated this year after Uribe accused Chavez of financing and supplying leftist Colombian rebels.

Chavez ordered an increase of troops along the 2,000- kilometer (1,250-mile) border between Venezuela and Colombia last week and said he may declare a state of emergency after two officials from the National Guard were shot and killed by unidentified Colombians.

Weapons Purchases

Venezuela has purchased billions of dollars of weapons, tanks, fighter jets and helicopters from Russia since 2003. Chavez says the purchases are necessary to modernize the armed forces and to protect the country’s natural resources from a possible invasion from the U.S.

Chavez said that with the military bases, the U.S. will be able to listen to telephone conversations, track people’s movements and plan attacks on the capital Caracas, or plot a coup against him.

Chavez, a self-proclaimed socialist revolutionary, said in July that he would stop importing goods from Colombia due to the U.S. military pact. The two countries are each other’s second- largest trading partners after the U.S.

Colombian exports to Venezuela plunged 49.5 percent in September from a year earlier, according to data from the Colombian statistics institute.

“I’m not calling for any war. The gringo empire is calling for war. I’m calling for the defense of the holy land that is Venezuela,” Chavez said. “I’m obligated to call on all Venezuelans to prepare for combat to defend the motherland, if not, who will?”

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Cancel in Caracas at dcancel@bloomberg.net.

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