Chavez, Correa Unite Against U.S. Ally Uribe

Standing side by side in a show of solidarity, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and Ecuador President Rafael Correa stood firm in their support of one another after days of accusations lobbed back and forth between the two countries and Colombia.

The joint appearance came after President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia announced he would be taking Chavez to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for allegedly funding and supporting genocidal crimes.

The crux of Uribe's argument was based on a series of documents found in a computer belonging to a Marxist rebel with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who was killed by Colombian troops inside Ecuador's border Saturday.

The Colombian government says the documents support the argument that Chavez donated $300 million in funds to the rebel group, which many countries consider a terrorist organization.

After two days of lying low, Chavez laughed off the accusations and said Uribe -- a strong ally of the United States -- should be tried for war crimes himself, calling his government "genocidal."

Chavez went on to list, in anecdotal fashion, the alleged links that the Colombian president has with paramilitary organizations and other illegal entities.

The news conference was almost theatrical in style, with the two presidents expressing outrage and using the opportunity to denounce the U.S.-backed Colombian leader as "a liar," "a traitor," "psychotic" and a "very dangerous for the leader of a state," according to Chavez.

For the Venezuelan leader, this was another opportunity to bash President Bush and his support of Uribe, with Chavez calling the United States "the last rogue of the empire." The "empire" is a common reference used by Chavez for the United States.

The vilification of Uribe dominated the news conference, but both leaders also took pains to direct anger toward the Colombian leadership as a whole, but not the Colombian people.

Peace was emphasized, as was a diplomatic solution to the crisis, an attempt to counter the fear of military action that has been anticipated since Chavez ordered 10 battalions to the border with Colombia.

Technically, the Venezuelan Constitution forbids launching an attack on another country for political motives. In addition, Colombia's military, twice the size of the Venezuelan army, is equipped and trained by U.S. forces who support a crackdown on FARC and drug trafficking.

Gen. Muller Rojas, vice president of the Venezuelan Socialist Party, told ABC News that military action would not be a straightforward matter.

"We are prepared to defend ourselves, not to attack," he said, "and we're also prepared to defend ourselves in a non-conventional manner."

"In the past five years," he continued, "we have been trying to develop units in the national reserves and in the territorial forces to act in what we call 'operations of resistance,' in the event of an invasion from Colombia or from North America."

According to a 2007 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, Venezuela has upped its military spending and has gone to Russia to order 24 Su-30MK2 advanced fighter aircraft, 50 transport and attack helicopters and 100,000 assault rifles, the latter being essential in conducting a defensive, insurgent strategy.

For now the ball is in the diplomatic court.

The Organization of American States -- a Latin American diplomatic entity -- met in Washington for an emergency session this week to denounce the Colombian raid as an infringement of Ecuadorian sovereignty.

The organization formally voiced its disapproval of the attack by Colombia on FARC rebel positions in Ecuadorian territory, and each representative denounced the action as an infringement of Ecuador's sovereignty.

Government and military officials in the region and in the United States believe that far from being the beginning of a conflict, this is more of a diplomatic spat requiring careful resolution.

Still, one false move and the region may yet be plunged into further hostility.

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