Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez says his country will cease oil supplies to the United States if a military confrontation breaks out between Venezuela and 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,” he said on Sunday.
“We would not send a drop more to US refineries,” he said to a roar of approval from thousands of supporters at a rally for his Socialist party.
Venezuela is America’s fifth biggest source of imported oil, supplying about a million barrels a day.
Chavez severed diplomatic relations with neighboring Colombia on Thursday over public accusations from Bogota that Caracas was providing a safe haven to leftist guerrillas. He says Colombian officials and right-wing paramilitary units have plotted his assassination.
The South American neighbors have kept bickering over the past few years and ties have been fragile. The fresh spike in tensions between Colombia and Venezuela has ratcheted up public unease about stability in the volatile Andean region.
Bogota and Caracas reached the threshold of a military confrontation in 2008 after Colombian military marched into Ecuador to destroy a cross-border rebel camp.
The present high level of antipathy between Chavez and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has also exacerbated the situation.