Languages
Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 11:17 UK

Colombia 'incursion' riles Chavez

Hugo Chavez on Alo Presidente (9 August 2009)
Mr Chavez has denounced Colombia's planned accord with the US

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused Colombia of carrying out a military incursion into Venezuela.

Mr Chavez said Colombian soldiers had recently been seen crossing the Orinoco river, which forms part of the border, and entering Venezuelan territory.

He said the incursion - which Colombia denies happened - was a "provocation".

South American leaders are gathering in Ecuador for a summit which is set to discuss Colombia's planned accord to allow the US use of its military bases.

Mr Chavez has been embroiled in a diplomatic row with his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, since news of the plan emerged.

'Growing threat'

During his weekly TV show on Sunday, Mr Chavez ordered his troops on to a war footing along the border with Colombia.

The Yankees have started to command Colombian military forces
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

"The threat against us is growing," he said. "I call on the people and the armed forces - let's go, ready for combat!"

He said Colombian soldiers had "crossed the Orinoco river in a boat and entered Venezuelan territory", but when Venezuelan troops arrived, they had gone.

"This is a provocation by the government of Uribe," he said. "The Yankees have started to command Colombian military forces."

Venezuela's foreign ministry would file a formal complaint, he added, warning that its military would "respond if there's an attack".

The Colombian foreign ministry said it had been in contact with its military commanders in the border area, who said there had been no such incursion.

Mr Chavez, who is now in Ecuador for the inauguration of President Rafael Correa and a summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), is expected to urge his allies in the region to press Mr Uribe to reconsider the planned accord with the US.

LATEST DISPUTE
map
15 Jul: Colombia says deal close to make Colombia regional hub for anti-drug operations
28 Jul: Chavez freezes ties with Colombia, recalls ambassador amid row over base plan, and after Colombia says Farc rebels had Venezuelan weapons
4 Aug: Uribe tours South America to explain planned US accord
5 Aug: Chavez announces trade measures against Colombia
7 Aug: Chavez says he is sending ambassador back to Colombia
9 Aug: Chavez denounces Colombian 'incursion'. Colombia says commandos in Vichada and Guania departments near the border deny any incursion

Ecuador, which has no diplomatic ties with Colombia, and Bolivia have also attacked the plan. Other countries in the region, including Brazil, have sought guarantees that US-Colombian military operations will not spill over Colombia's borders.

The US is leaving its previous regional hub, the Manta air base in Ecuador, after Mr Correa refused to renew the lease.

The deal with Colombia would give the US, which already has forces in the country as part of the anti-drugs programme Plan Colombia, access to air bases in Colombia to gather intelligence and support operations against drugs production and terrorism.

Mr Uribe has said the accord will not infringe Colombia's sovereignty and that there would be no more than 1,400 troops and civilian contractors based there, the maximum permitted under the current military accord between Colombia and the US.

Correspondents say this is not the first time tensions have risen between the Venezuelan and Colombian presidents.

Last year, a war of words culminated in the Venezuelans despatching tanks and heavy armour to the border.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Venezuela returns Colombia envoy
08 Aug 09 |  Americas
Bolivia in Colombia betrayal jibe
07 Aug 09 |  Americas
Chavez fumes at neighbour Colombia
06 Aug 09 |  Americas
Chavez turns up heat on Colombia
06 Aug 09 |  Americas
Uribe tours region over US pact
04 Aug 09 |  Americas
Colombia's rocky regional relations
30 Jul 09 |  Americas
Chavez freezes ties with Colombia
29 Jul 09 |  Americas



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific