Archive for July 26, 2010
Chavez Sharpens Knife to Remove Own Nose
Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, has upped the ante in his war of words with leaders in Colombia. Last week, Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with his neighbor to the West when outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused Venezuela of providing a safe haven for Colombian rebels to launch attacks across the border.
Chavez, who has quarreled often with U.S. policy – especially during the Bush administration – is now threatening to cut off oil exports to the U.S. if Colombia launches an attack on Venezuela. He told a rally (July 25) that he would halt the oil – if there’s an American-backed attack on Venezuelan soil – even if it means his citizens have to “eat stones.”
While Venezuela is the fifth largest supplier of petroleum to the U.S., the U.S. is also Venezuela’s biggest customer, according to analysts, so Chavez’s strategy sounds a lot like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. About 50 percent of Venezuelan government revenue come from oil exports. Analysts also believe Chavez’s sabre-rattling is trying to divert Venezuelans’ attention away from the country’s poorly-performing economy.
The U.S. has denied any plans to support a strike Venezuela or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC is their acronym in Spanish). The rebel group has been waging a 30-year insurgency against the government in Bogota, Colombia’s capital.
Chavez is incensed that Uribe has broadcast videos showing purported rebel camps inside Venezuelan territory. He’s also worried because Uribe’s successor, President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, launched an attack on an FARC base in Ecuador when he was Colombia’s defense minister.
Chavez has also railed against Colombia for allowing the U.S. military access to some Colombian bases and the nearby Dutch-administered island of Curacao’s for accommodating U.S. drug trafficking surveillance flights.