Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday he would not attend the inauguration of Colombia's new president, and said he would break off relations with the country if outgoing President Uribe continued to accuse Venezuela of harboring Colombian rebel leaders.
Chavez called the accusations "madness" and said in a televised speech he won't attend the inauguration of President-elect Juan Manuel Santos.Chavez denied the allegations by outgoing President Alvaro Uribe's government, saying, "We don't hide anyone here." He said if those in Uribe's government "continue with their madness, I'm going to break relations with Colombia in the coming hours."
He also said, however, that the situation poses a test for Santos and that "if there is respect," Venezuela will be willing to take up positive relations again.
Chavez called his ambassador home from Bogota for consultations in protest.
Colombian officials have long complained, mostly in private, that Chavez has harbored leaders of its two main rebel groups. But on Thursday, the Colombian Defense Ministry showed video, photographs and satellite images to Colombian journalists that it said proved the presence of rebel leaders in neighboring Venezuela.
Uribe leaves office on Aug. 7. The hard-line president has been widely credited for seriously weakening Colombia's leftist insurgencies, one of which killed his father in a botched 1983 kidnapping.