Venezuela Forced to Break Relations with Colombia

Dear Friends,

In a desperate attempt to destroy all relations with Venezuela before vacating his position as Colombia's President, Alvaro Uribe made false and libelous accusations of the Chavez government of assisting terrorist training camps, drug trafficking, etc. In response to this aggressive act before the U.S.-supported Organization of American States (OAS), Chavez has broken all diplomatic relations with Colombia, and has requested that provisional president of UNASUR call a meeting to mediate the Venezuelan-Colombian conflict.

Venezuela Severs Diplomatic Relations with Colombia
By Tamara Pearson

Merida, July 23rd, 2010 -- Following Colombian accusations before the Organisation of American States (OAS) yesterday that Venezuela is "protecting" its guerrillas, Chavez announced that Venezuela would break off diplomatic relations with Colombia and withdraw its ambassador. Venezuelan institutions and international social organisations have expressed their support for Venezuela, while the U.S has supported Colombia's proposal to the OAS.

President Hugo Chavez and various other government leaders have justified the move as defending Venezuela's "dignity" in the face of "constant aggressions and false accusations" by Colombia against Venezuela.

"This government of Mr [Alvaro] Uribe has spent eight years attacking and lying and creating 'false positives' against Venezuela in order to justify the unjustifiable," Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said. Uribe will be replaced by President-elect Juan Manuel Santos on 7 August.

Yesterday afternoon the Venezuelan executive gave its ambassador in Colombia, Gustavo Marquez, and his staff 72 hours to return to Caracas.

Chavez also requested an extraordinary meeting of the political council of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in order to denounce the Colombian government's "aggression".

Maduro supported the call, saying a "South American response to the aggression" was necessary.

In response to Venezuela's request, early this morning Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa who is also provisional president of UNASUR, announced he would call a meeting of the regional organisation in order to mediate the Venezuelan-Colombian conflict.

"The Venezuelan government is concentrating its efforts in the union of South America, in creating, social, economic and defence based unity of South America," Vice president Elias Jaua said to the press this morning.

Jaua called on the Venezuelan people to "strengthen the union with the Colombian people in order to keep struggling for peace and unity of the continent."

The freezing of relations wouldn't affect food supply in Venezuela, said Jorge Perez, professor of political economy at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), He said that food to be imported for the state food markets of Mercal and Pdval is already being processed to come from other Latin American countries.

Perez explained that ever since the freezing of commercial relations between Venezuela and Colombia last year following Colombia's agreement to install seven U.S bases in its territory, the government has been progressively substituting its imports from Colombian transnationals by signing agreements with countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and China, to import products like meat, milk, cheese, and rice.

Also, both Reuters and the Venezuelan government owned AVN, reported that the situation on the main Venezuela/Colombia border crossings was "normal", with the crossings remaining open and vehicles and people passing through as usual.

Support for the Venezuelan government's actions
YVKE Mundial and AVN report that some Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) workers protested this morning in Caracas in order to show their support for the decision of the government to break diplomatic relations with Colombia.

One of the protestors, Karina Soler, told press, "We're not enemies of the Colombian people, but we declare ourselves fierce enemies of the narco-government of Uribe."

Jaua said the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) was organising a series of mobilisations along the border with Colombia for this weekend. On Saturday afternoon it is planning a mobilisation in Apure, towards the centre of the border, then in Tachira, where the main border crossing is, on Sunday, and on 31 July, heading towards the south, in Amazonas.

Also yesterday a coalition of U.S based human rights, social justice, civil society organisations and the TransAfrica Forum published two letters criticising the outgoing government of Colombia for "continuing a pattern of falsely accusing Venezuela of having links to the insurgent groups FARC and ELN".

The letters were addressed to Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the OAS and the coalition said it will continue collecting signatures and will also submit the letter to UNASUR and to incoming president-elect Santos on the day of his inauguration, 7 August.

Various other Venezuelan public institutions and organisations have also expressed their support for the measures taking by the Venezuelan executive, including the heads of; the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, the Attorney General, the National Electoral Council, the PSUV youth, the National Union of Workers (Unete), the Socialist Front of Petroleum Workers (FSTP), the Electoral Movement of the People (MEP), and the Unionists of Latin American and the Caribbean, who are currently in Venezuela for a continent wide union conference.

Marcela Maspero, national coordinator of Unete, said, "In the face of any attempt by Colombia or any other country, to obstruct the revolution [in Venezuela], the working class will come out bravely to defend the process and the country."

Likewise, Victor Mendibil, from the Unionists of Latin America and the Caribbean and also the Workers Central of Argentina (CTA), said, "Once again the Colombian government is attacking the progressive government of Venezuela and accusing it internationally of having and protecting...Colombian guerrillas. That's not possible, because the government here is a proper one that always acts according to the law."

Further, according to Alfonso Velasquez of the Unified Central of Workers of Colombia (CUT), the Colombian government needs to leave the Venezuelan government alone and "dedicate" itself to providing security for Colombians. "Just last year, over 2,940 union and social leaders in Colombia were killed due to the inefficiency of the government in relation to security," he said.

U.S support for Colombia
Meanwhile, El Universal reports that the U.S has announced that it would support the creation of an international mission to verify if the FARC do have camps in Venezuelan territory, something Colombia requested when it went to the OAS yesterday.

U.S. State department spokesperson Phillip Crowley said he supported Colombia's proposal and such a mission should visit and examine the supposed camps within a month.

"There should be an investigation. We think Venezuela has the responsibility to respond swiftly to the important information presented yesterday by Colombia," he said.

OAS norms state that such a commission can only be formed with the permission of the country involved.

Maduro concluded that the only way diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Colombia could be restored was with "absolute respect and when they cease the political and media aggressions against [Venezuela]."

Venezuela had already suspended bilateral trade ties mid last year to protest the agreement between the U.S and Colombia to install seven U.S military bases in Colombian territory.

Then last week the outgoing Colombian government accused Venezuela of purposefully tolerating the presence of Colombian guerrilla "terrorists" in its territory. Venezuela's initial response was that such accusations were part of a media "defamation" campaign.

ALBA Opposes U.S.- Israeli Threats Against Iran

Dear Friends,

At a time of increased U.S.-lead of sanctions and threats of military attacks against the people of Iran, diplomatic representatives of five member states of the Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America (ALBA) in Tehran have condemned these measures and reaffirmed their support for Iran's right to develop the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The following report on this statement is from the Tehran Times ( _________________________________________
ALBA Opposes U.S.- Israeli Threats Against Iran
By Hamid Golpira and Amir Mirzaattari

TEHRAN - The countries of the ALBA alliance have expressed their support for Iran's right to use nuclear energy meant for peaceful purposes and have condemned the imposition of sanctions on the country.

Ambassadors and heads of missions of five member states of the Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America (ALBA) signed a declaration in Tehran on Wednesday expressing support for Iran's right to continue its peaceful nuclear activities.

The signing of the declaration was announced during a press conference held at the Venezuelan Embassy in Tehran on Wednesday July 14.

Jorge Miranda, the ambassador of the Multinational State of Bolivia, William Carbo Ricardo, the ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, Daniel Alvarez, the charge d'affaires of the Republic of Ecuador, Mario Barquero, the ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua, and David Velasquez, the ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, attended the press conference.

Following is the full text of the declaration:

Combined Declaration of the Ambassadors and Heads of Missions of the Member States of ALBA accredited to the Islamic Republic of Iran

We, Ambassadors and Heads of Mission of the Member States of the Bolivarian Alliance of the people of our America -- ALBA -- in the Islamic Republic of Iran condemn the destabilizing and militaristic aspirations of the United States Government and its allies, specially the Zionist government of Israel, whose acts lead to a conflict scene against Iran which will be extended to all the Middle East.

We ratify the support of our governments to the sovereign right of the Islamic Republic of Iran to generate atomic energy and use it with peaceful aims, the right of all the nations laid down in the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty).

The civilized way of dialogue for giving solution to controversies never should be stopped because it is the main form of the relations between sovereign nations in the 21st century. A military aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran will just bring dreadful consequences to all of humanity.

All the people and governments of the Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America -- ALBA -- believe that frank dialogue for finding solutions and agreement should prevail over roaring cannons.

During the press conference, Ambassador Barquero said, "We have gathered to condemn imperialism and express our opposition to this (the Zionist) regime's acts and highlight the (need for) peace and peaceful concord."

The Cuban ambassador noted, "We have always said that threatening Iran should be condemned, and we have expressed our readiness to support Iran at this point in time, and we believe that the Iranian nation can give a crushing response to the threats."

Velasquez said, "We have gathered to express the common concerns of Latin American countries about any measures taken against Iran and to warn against hostile acts toward Iran."

He added that Iran and Venezuela have signed agreements on gasoline and petrochemicals, which are also subject to sanctions, but explained that Venezuela will continue its cooperation with Iran in this area.

Ambassador Miranda said that Bolivian President Evo Morales will pay an official visit to Iran after the month of Ramadan, which occurs from approximately August 12 to September 11 this year, depending on the sighting of the new moon.

The ambassadors also said that ALBA member states will continue their economic cooperation with Iran despite the economic sanctions imposed on the country.

Commenting on the efforts to increase the economic integration of ALBA, Ambassador Barquero said ALBA members have agreed to adopt a single currency called the Sucre, and stated that Ecuador, Venezuela, and Cuba use this currency in their trade exchanges.

Ambassador Miranda explained that the sucre is still at a point somewhat similar to the stage when the euro was still the European Currency Unit, but added that one day it may enter circulation.

Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are the members of ALBA.