Greg Brosnan/ Reuters & Debora Rey / The Associated Press – 2006-04-22 12:35:04
Chavez Says US Warships Threaten Venezuela, Cuba
Greg Brosnan/ Reuters
( April 18, 2006) — President Hugo Chavez, who accuses Washington of planning to invade Venezuela, said on Tuesday recent deployment of US warships in the Caribbean Sea threatened his country and its ally Cuba.
Four US warships, including an aircraft carrier, and 6,500 sailors, are in a two-month deployment in the Caribbean Sea dubbed “Partnership of the Americas” by the US Navy.
“They are doing maneuvers right here,” Chavez told a student meeting in the country’s west. “This is a threat, not just against us, against Venezuela, against Cuba.”
Chavez has repeatedly accused the United States of trying to oust him. US officials say the self-styled socialist revolutionary and friend of Cuban President Fidel Castro threatens regional stability.
Chavez, who has created a civilian reserve to resist the assault he says Washington is planning, has threatened to repel US forces with arrows coated with poison.
The United States, a leading buyer of oil from Venezuela, the world’s No. 5 exporter, has dismissed his invasion talk as a ridiculous invention aimed at stirring up his supporters.
At least one warship has come as close to Venezuela as the Dutch island of Aruba, about 15 miles off its coast.
The Florida-based US Southern Command has said the operations, which include visits to countries including Venezuela’s neighboring US ally Colombia, focus on threats such as “narco-terrorism and human-trafficking.”
Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited
Chavez: Oil Will Be Destroyed if Attacked
Debora Rey / The Associated Press
ASUNCION, Paraguay (April 19, 2006) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday again raised the specter of US designs to oust him and promised that his government will blow up his country’s oil fields if the United States should ever attack.
US officials have repeatedly denied any military plans against Chavez, but also call him a threat to stability in the region.
Speaking to other South American leaders, Chavez said his conflict with Washington is rooted in the US thirst to control oil. He said the Americans will be denied that in Venezuela, which is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and one of the biggest suppliers to the US market.
If the United States attacks, Chavez said, “We won’t have any other alternative – blow up our own oil fields – but they aren’t going to take that oil.”
Some of Chavez’s political opponents at home call his warnings about a US invasion far-fetched and contend he pursues the verbal conflict with Washington to encourage a sense of struggle against a foreign enemy as he heads toward the presidential election in December.
Chavez cited what he called a regular flow of threatening statements and actions from the US government, from US naval exercises being held this month in the Caribbean to US questions about Venezuela’s deepening ties with Iran.
“The latest they’ve invented is that we’re sending uranium to Iran, and what’s more yesterday it came out in the Venezuelan press that we’re making a secret plan to bring Iranian nuclear missiles and install them in Venezuela,” he said.
In that report, the Venezuelan newspaper 2001 cited unidentified US intelligence sources as saying Iran and Venezuela made a secret deal to ship missiles to Venezuela and Cuba aboard oil tankers. It did not provide any details about its sources, and the report was roundly denied by Venezuelan officials as preposterous.
Chavez accused the United States of “searching for an excuse for anything” against Venezuela, noting US warship are holding exercises this month in the Caribbean – “there under our very noses.”
In Caracas, meanwhile, Venezuela’s defense minister, Adm. Orlando Maniglia, said Chavez’s military plans to hold its own exercises soon along the coasts and with neighboring countries’ armed forces.
“We already have planned some future exercises with the government of Curacao, and also with the Dutch, with the navy and armed forces of Colombia,” he said, without giving any details.’
But Venezuela also has problems with neighboring Colombia. It demanded Wednesday that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe investigate a Colombian magazine’s allegations that Uribe’s secret police plotted to assassinate Chavez.
“The government of President Uribe is obligated to thoroughly investigate and share its investigation with the Venezuelan government,” Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel told reporters in Caracas.
Uribe has denied the accusations.
Associated Press writers Natalie Obiko Pearson and Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.
© 2006 The Associated Press
Venezuela Quits Andean Trade Bloc
(April 20, 2006) — Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez says his country is withdrawing from the South American trade bloc, the Andean Community of Nations.
He told a summit in Paraguay that Venezuela was leaving because recent trade deals between Peru, Colombia and the US had killed off the community. He has accused fellow members of being overly aligned with the US. He has vowed to create economic and political unity in South America without the help of Washington.
Mr Chavez has maintained a war of words with Washington, and argued that free trade deals are unfair to developing nations.
On Wednesday the Venezuelan leader told reporters at the summit in Asuncion that the Andean Community of Nations – made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – was “fatally wounded” and only served international elites.
Venezuela, however, is on track to becoming a full member of Mercosur, another South American trade bloc whose member governments are mostly left-wing. The BBC’s Greg Morsbach in Caracas says there are other projects under way to drive forward integration.
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has agreed to buy a 5% stake in the Latin American public news channel Telesur, which is jointly owned by Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay.
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