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Alvaro Uribe Velez

Bush Administration attempts to persuade Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, arguably one of the United States’ closest allies in the region, to denounce Chávez have proven unfruitful. Yesterday, in an interview with a Colombian radio station, President Uribe said with respect to Venezuela’s willingness to help fight terrorism, that “Every day we see a more favorable evolution of the Venezuelan government.” Uribe has yet to criticize Venezuela’s alleged "military build-up."

Bush administration officials have recently been lobbying governments of the Americas, such as President Kirchner of Argentina, Prime Minister Martin of Canada, and President Fox of Mexico to criticize and distance themselves from Venezuela’s President Chavez. A common criticism has been Venezuela’s purchase of 100,000 Russian-made Kalashnikov AK-47s, the government’s alleged clampdown on internal dissent, and its supposed meddling in neighboring countries, such as Colombia and Bolivia.

With regard to why Uribe has not complained about Venezuela’s purchase of 100,000 Kalashnikovs, Uribe said, “It is more important to go to a summit and to ask that controls are adopted, to insist that international agreements are adhered to on the negotiation and purchase of arms, than to simply isolate oneself, withdraw, or cry.”

Referring to the recent capture of El Chigüiro, a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who is accused of kidnapping the mother of a Venezuelan baseball star, Uribe said that the Venezuelan government acted “with firmness and without theatricalities.” Currently El Chigüiro is facing a Colombian extradition request.

Uribe also emphasized his collaboration with the United States, which “cannot be incompatible with the alliance [we have] with Latin American countries,” said Uribe.

No heads of state have so far responded to the Bush Administration’s efforts to isolate Venezuela. In a recent four-nation summit between Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and Spain, Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio "Lula" da Silva defended his Venezuelan counterpart, affirming that, "we do not accept defamations and insinuations against compañeros."

Also, Argentina’s former President, Eduardo Duhalde recently came to Chavez’s defense, saying, “I don’t know why we have to get involved what a sovereign country is doing, just because it made a weapons purchase."