Chavez warns Colombia not to allow U.S. base

President Hugo Chavez warned Colombia not to allow a U.S. military base on its border with Venezuela, saying he would regard such an act as "aggression."

Chávez said Wednesday that he would not let the U.S.-backed Colombian government establish an American military base in La Guajira, a region spanning northeastern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela.

The Venezuelan leader said that if Colombia allowed the base, his government would revive an old territorial conflict and claim the entire region.

"We will not allow the Colombian government to give La Guajira to the empire," Chavez said, referring to the United States in a speech before an auditorium of uniformed soldiers. "Colombia is launching a threat of war at us."

Chavez said Washington's top diplomat in Bogotá, Ambassador William Brownfield, recently suggested that a U.S. military base in Ecuador could be moved to La Guajira.

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, a close Chavez ally, has repeatedly said that he will not renew a 10-year lease on the base in the Pacific port of Manta when it expires next year.

Surveillance flights the United States runs from Manta represent 60 percent of drug interdiction in the eastern Pacific.

[Source: Associated Press, Caracas, Ven 15may08]

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