Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez abruptly cancelled a trip to Cuba on Sunday, citing the danger of “armed aggression” by Colombia, and warned the United States to stay out of the crisis.
Announcing the decision at a political event, Mr. Chavez said he had intelligence that “the possibility of an armed aggression against Venezuelan territory from Colombia” was higher than it has been “in 100 years”.
“The guilty one”
“Everything points to the Colombian government, and even more so to the United States — there you have the guilty one, there you have the great instigator,” added Mr. Chavez, who is highly critical of a U.S.-Colombian military base deal struck last year.
The firebrand socialist leader also threatened to cut off oil supplies to the United States if it supported a Colombian military attack on Venezuela.
Mr. Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with Bogota on Thursday in response to charges by President Alvaro Uribe that 1,500 Colombian guerrillas had set up camp inside Venezuela and were launching attacks from its territory.
The United States on Friday threw its support behind its key ally Colombia in its latest row with Venezuela, calling Mr. Chavez's decision to sever diplomatic relations with Colombia and put border troops on alert “a petulant response” to Bogota's accusations.
On Sunday, Mr. Chavez said that if Colombia were to launch an attack “promoted by the Yankee empire, we would suspend oil deliveries to the United States, even if everybody over here has to eat stones”. “We wouldn't send even a single drop of oil” to the United States, he said.
Venezuela, a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is South America's largest oil producer and exporter.