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| 4/20/2010 12:00:00 AM

Chavez Calls Colombia's Santos Threat to Region

April 20--Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told a summit of fellow left-wing leaders on Monday that the front-running presidential candidate in neighbouring Colombia was a menace to stability in Latin America.

"He is a threat to all of us," Chavez said of former Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who is leading opinion polls ahead of next month's election.

The comment will dampen diplomats' hopes of a rapprochement between U.S. ally Colombia and Venezuela -- whose government is the region's leading critic of Washington -- if Santos wins and replaces his former boss, President Alvaro Uribe.

A feud between Uribe and Chavez has squeezed trade between the Andean nations and heightened tensions on the border.

Drawing applause from a partisan audience attending the Venezuelan-led ALBA summit, Chavez cited Santos' record as defence minister including a controversial military strike against Colombian guerrillas in Ecuadorean territory in 2008.

"These people feel they have the support of the Yankees," he said, also quoting recent comments by Santos about the need to keep "terrorists" at bay.

Chavez was hosting allies from around the region, including Cuba's Raul Castro, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Argentina's Cristina Fernandez, for the summit which coincided with the bicentennial of Venezuelan independence.
 
Read more here.
 
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EDICIÓN 1825

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