Chavez Warns Troops to Prepare for War with Colombia

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his country's soldiers should be ready if the United States attempts to provoke a war between his country and Colombia. Tensions between the two countries continue to rise, and Chavez insists that if a conflict broke out, "it could extend throughout the whole continent."

"The best way to avoid war is preparing for it," Chavez told military officers during his weekly television and radio program. The Colombian government rejected all of Chavez’s threats. "Colombia never has, and never will, make an act of war," said government spokesman Cesar Mauricio Velasquez.

Chavez was not pleased when Bogota and Washington made an agreement giving U.S. troops greater access to military bases in Colombia, citing the deal as a threat to regional stability. Colombian and U.S. officials have repeatedly said Venezuela shouldn't be concerned about the base deal because it focuses on increasing the fight against drug traffickers and insurgents in Colombia.

Regardless, Chavez warned President Obama against using his alliance with Colombian President Uribe to mount an offensive against Venezuela. "The empire is more threatening than ever," Chavez said, referring to the U.S. government. "Don't make a mistake, Mr. Obama, by ordering an attack against Venezuela by way of Colombia."