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Border Tensions Increase as Chavez Imposes Embargo

Venezuelan troops blew up a bridge and captured a Colombian soldier this week. This comes on the heels of what Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has termed a Venezuelan embargo against his country. In the meantime, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez continues to claim that there is a conspiracy against his country by the United States and Colombia.

Venezuelan soldiers blew up another bridge Friday along the border with Colombia in what Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva described as, “another act of aggression and a violation of international rights.” Silva also reports that the Venezuelan military captured a Colombian soldier who accidentally crossed the border. However, General Franklin Marquez of the Venezuelan National Guard claims they merely blew up a walkway “used to transport a lot of contraband food and fuel.”

President Alvaro Uribe blamed Chavez for imposing an embargo on Colombia this week, as reported exports to Venezuela fell 56% in October from 2008, ousting Venezuela as Colombia’s second largest trading partner and replacing it with China. This is potentially problematic for Colombia given the types of value-added products exported to Venezuela, vis-à-vis oil exports to China.

All of this comes less than a month after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the United States and Colombia of a conspiracy, claiming “[t]he two governments have joined together to fool the world or to try to fool the world.”

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