Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to cut off oil to the
US on Sunday. The latest Chavez oil threat comes amid a rising
diplomatic spat with neighboring Colombia, a staunch US ally in the
As Latin American leaders rush to defuse tensions between
Colombia and Venezuela, severed last week over new allegations that
Venezuela is harboring leftist guerrillas, Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez is seeking to cast attention much farther north.
On Sunday Mr. Chavez threatened to cut oil supplies to the US,
should a military attack come from Colombia.
"If there was any armed aggression against Venezuela from
Colombian territory or from anywhere else, promoted by the Yankee
empire, we would suspend oil shipments to the United States, even if
we have to eat stones here," Chavez said Sunday. "We would not send
a drop more to US refineries."
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This is not the first time that Chavez has threatened to cut off
oil to the US, or charged the US and Colombia of plots to attack
Venezuela, but most analysts have discarded the threats as empty.
Although Venezuela has expanded its trading relationship with Asia,
the US is still its main oil customer. Venezuela sends the US about
a million barrels a day, according to the US Energy Information
"This has been said so many times, it has lost its weight," says
Elsa Cardozo, an international relations expert at the Universidad
Metropolitana in Venezuela's capital, Caracas. "The US is so
important to Venezuela for energy exports, the idea would be
Regional tensions rise
Tensions between Venezuela and Colombia have grown over the
years, but just as Colombian President Alvaro Uribe - a key US ally
in the region - is set to leave office, the relationship hit another
Last week, Colombia presented evidence to the Organization of
American States (OAS) alleging that some 1,500 Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels are currently in Venezuela. Chavez
denied the allegations and immediately cut off diplomatic relations
with Colombia in retaliation.
Venezuela has warned Colombia over aggression in the region in
the past, particularly after Colombia launched a raid on Ecuadorean
soil in 2008 on a FARC camp, killing FARC leader Raul Reyes. Chavez
then put his military on high alert, sending troops to the border
its shares with Colombia. …