LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivian President Evo Morales called yesterday for an emergency meeting of South American presidents to resolve a stand-off between Colombia and neighbouring Venezuela that has raised tensions in the Andes.
Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez, a staunch critic of the United States, severed ties with US ally Colombia on Thursday after Bogota accused his oil-producing country of harbouring leftist rebels on its territory.
Morales, a close ally of Chavez, warned that the region was on the brink of war due to the pro-US policies of Colombia’s outgoing President Alvaro Uribe, and said the South American Nations Union, or Unasur, must seek a peaceful end to the dispute.
“I want to ask the head of Unasur, Ecuadorean President (Rafael) Correa, to call an emergency meeting of the 12 presidents of Unasur so we can resolve these problems between Colombia and Venezuela,” Morales in a televised speech.
“A war is in the making and Bolivia, along with the presidents of the Unasur, should not allow that war to happen between brother countries.”
Most analysts believe a military clash is unlikely, despite the harsh rhetoric. The Venezuela-Colombia border remained calm yesterday.
Chavez has dismissed the Colombian allegations as a hoax and says they are a pretext for a possible US-backed invasion of his country — an OPEC member and South America’s biggest oil producer. He accuses Uribe’s government of being an instrument of US “imperialism.”
At a function to mark the birthday of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar on Saturday, the Venezuelan leader reiterated his position that the charges were part of an international plot to undermine his socialist project.
“The preparation phase of the international community, with the help of Colombia, is in full swing,” he said, adding that he had been warned it might include plans to kidnap or kill him.