CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) — President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela cut ties with Colombia on Thursday in an escalating dispute between the countries over Bogotá’s accusations that Venezuela was sheltering leftist Colombian rebels.
Mr. Chávez said he was severing relations after Colombia presented evidence that it said showed 1,500 Colombian guerrillas hiding in Venezuela.
Mr. Chávez called the Colombian accusations, presented at the Organization of American States in Washington, a United States-inspired “aggression.”
“We have no other choice but, out of dignity, to totally break our relations with our brother nation of Colombia,” he said on state television.
Venezuela closed its embassy in Bogotá and gave the mission 72 hours to leave.
Colombia’s ambassador to the O.A.S., Luis Alfonso Hoyos, called Venezuela’s breaking of ties a “historic mistake.”
“Venezuela should break relations with the gangs that kidnap and kill and traffic drugs, and not with a legally constituted government,” he said.