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Venezuelan president calls on soldiers to prepare for war

11/9/2009 - 7 sur 7, El Nuevo Diario, XinHua

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged the army and civilians on Sunday to prepare themselves for war.

"We cannot waste one day to fulfill our mission: to prepare for war and help the people to get ready for war," Chavez said during his weekly TV-radio show.

His words came after Colombia and the United States signed a military agreement allowing the United States to use seven military bases in the country, which has aroused protest from its neighbors.

"Let's form the militia. The workers, the women, all ready to defend this sacred homeland," Chavez announced, adding that the best way to avoid war was to prepare for it.

After the signing of the U.S.-Colombia military agreement on Sept. 30, Venezuela has stepped up its military presence in states bordering Colombia.

According to the U.S.-Colombia agreement, the United States' military presence would be increased by up to 1,400 people across seven military bases in Colombia to fight local drug traffickers and insurgents.

However, Colombia's neighbors Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela have been criticizing the agreement since it was first discussed in July, saying it posed a threat to their national security.

Colombia remains the world's largest producer of cocaine, and has two large active rebel movements -- the National Liberation Army and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – both listed as terrorist groups by the United States.

Colombia has been accusing Venezuela of covertly supporting the FARC. Venezuela denied the charge and in turn accused Colombia of backing U.S. ambitions allegedly going far beyond fighting drug deals and terrorists to control the region's raw materials.


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