News, March 2008
Venezuela puts army on high alert, closes Colombia embassy
www.chinaview.cn 2008-03-03 04:32:52
CARACAS, March 2 (Xinhua) --
Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, on Sunday formally ordered the nation's armed forces to be on high alert, the closure of Venezuela's embassy in Colombia and the mobilization of the nation's armed forces to the Colombia border.
"We are at a state of alertness. I am putting Venezuela on alert and we will support Ecuador," Chavez told his regular Sunday broadcast Alo Presidente. "Defense minister: move 10 battalions to the Colombia-Venezuela border. Tank battalions, military aircraft: deploy!" he ordered.
During the same broadcast, Chavez strongly condemned the killing of Luis Edgar Devia, better known by the alias Raul Reyes, who was the de facto foreign minister for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), that nation's largest armed rebel group.
The Colombian army killed Devia in Ecuadorian territory. Ecuador responded with a protest letter sent via diplomatic channels.
Chavez told the broadcast audience that he had received a phone call from Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, in which Correa said he had recalled Ecuador's ambassador to Colombia and ordered the mobilization of troops to Ecuador's northern border with Colombia.
"Let all diplomatic officials return. We are in a state of alert and we will back Ecuador in whatever circumstance," Chavez added.
He said that Colombia's military leaders had recognized that they had deliberately invaded Ecuadorian territory, something that is extremely serious. It could be the start of a South American war," he said.
Chavez also said that he would not take part in the next South American Union of Nations meeting set for late March in Colombia's capital Bogota.
Chavez went on to describe Colombia's president, Alvaro Uribe, as a criminal. "Not only is he a liar, a mafia boss, a paramilitary who leads a narco-government and leads a government that is a lackey of the United States ..., he leads a band of criminals from his palace."
Venezuela shares 2,219 kilometers of border with Colombia. From August to November last year, Chavez took part in mediations between the Colombian government and the FARC, which led to the release of hostages in the early part of this year. However, Uribe fired Chavez from the mediation role for allegedly breaking protocol.
Editor: Mu Xuequan
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