The Times

Hugo Chávez tells Venezuela troops to ‘prepare for war’ with Colombia
The Times of London

President Chávez of Venezuela told his country yesterday to prepare for war with Colombia, which he accused of being in league with the United States.

Only days after sending 15,000 troops to the volatile border, Mr Chávez, Washington’s main enemy in the region, ordered the Venezuelan military and people to prepare to “defend the homeland”, claiming that the US planned to use Colombian bases to mount an invasion of his oil-rich nation.

“The empire is more threatening than ever,” Mr Chávez, a former paratrooper, warned. “Don’t make a mistake, Mr Obama, by ordering an attack against Venezuela by way of Colombia.” Such a war would set the continent alight, he said.

Venezuela has spent more than $3 billion (£2 billion) on arms recently, mostly from Russia, prompting Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to warn of a regional arms race. Washington views Colombia as a buffer against Mr Chávez and other Latin American socialists, such as President Correa of Ecuador, President Morales of Bolivia and President Ortega of Nicaragua.