Colombia Pulls Venezuelan Consul After Expulsion Talk (Update1)
By Steven Bodzin
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia withdrew its consul-general from the
Venezuelan city of Maracaibo after President Hugo Chavez said the
diplomat would be expelled, said Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's foreign
An intercepted telephone call played on state television showed the
diplomat "talking in a strange way," Chavez said in a speech today.
The call indicated a possible plan to use anti- Chavez governors in
Colombian border states to sow disunity in Venezuela, Chavez said.
"I recommend that they think carefully, because if they try, they'll
regret it all their life," Chavez said.
Venezuela expelled its U.S. ambassador Sept. 11. That move followed
Bolivian President Evo Morales's expulsion of the U.S. ambassador to
that country. Morales said the U.S. Embassy supported secessionist
leaders in Bolivia.
Venezolana de Television, the state news channel, played the tape and
said it was of Carlos Galvis Fajardo, Colombia's consul-general in the
second-largest city in Venezuela, talking with Jose Obdulio, an aide
to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Comments by the person identified by the TV station as the consul
included that the new governors of Zulia and Tachira states are "very
good friends and I think that for our work there, it has to be
marvelous." He later referred to Tachira's new governor, Pablo Perez,
as "a very, very special friend here of ours."
The television station didn't say how it got the tape.
The conflict follows a diplomatic rift between Colombia and Venezuela
in March, in which Chavez ordered tanks to the border after Colombia
bombed a guerrilla encampment in neighboring Ecuador. The countries
have a heavy cross-border trade, including natural gas provided by
Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol SA and Chevron Corp. that is
piped to Venezuela.
Chavez also said he had his military on alert to take over police
departments in Venezuela if they showed signs of opposing the central
Calls to Colombia's embassy in Caracas and to the consulate in
Maracaibo outside business hours weren't answered.