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Cablegate: Goc Reacts to Chavez "Aggression Towards Colombia"

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER PINR PHUM PREL PREF CO VZ
SUBJECT: GOC REACTS TO CHAVEZ "AGGRESSION TOWARDS COLOMBIA"

1. The GOC issued a formal communique on January 16 demanding
that Venezuelan President Chavez "cease his aggression
against Colombia." Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo, who was
held hostage by the FARC for nearly six years, read the
communique, which was prompted by Chavez' comments accusing
the GOC of being a threat to peace in South America. Chavez
said that "Uribe does what Bush tells him to do. Bush wants
war, and so Uribe wants war." He added that Uribe maintained
the war in Colombia due to pressure from the USG, and claimed
to have proof that the USG and GOC were plotting to
assassinate him. Chavez made his comments in Nicaragua, the
only country to support his call for the international
community to grant the FARC and ELN belligerent status.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has also aroused
Colombia's anger by publicly praising FARC leader Manuel
Marulanda.

2. In the communique, the GOC urged Chavez to respect
Colombia and cease his interference in Colombia's internal
affairs. The GOC charged that Chavez had taken every
opportunity to mistreat the GOC or its leaders, confused
cooperation with interference, and ignored the presence of
FARC hostages in his own country. Still, Araujo emphasized
that the GOC wants to maintain a constructive dialogue with
the GOV through diplomatic and other channels.

3. Pro-GOC and opposition political leaders denounced Chavez'
statements and demanded a halt to his interference in
Colombian affairs. Leftist Polo Democratico Senator Gustavo
Petro said Chavez' efforts were hurting, not helping,
prospects for peace in Colombia. Former-President and
Liberal Party chief Cesar Gaviria said Chavez' statements
were anti-democratic and a thinly veiled defense of the FARC
and armed struggle in Colombia. Congress President Nancy
Patricia Gutierrez stressed the Uribe administration's desire
to achieve lasting peace and dismissed the possibility of a
plot being concocted between the United States and the
Colombian military against Venezuela as "absurd."

Brownfield

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