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Hugo Chávez oil threats: Why Chávez won't cut off oil to the US

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“This has been said so many times, it has lost its weight,” says Elsa Cardozo, an international relations expert at the Universidad Metropolitana in Venezuela's capital, Caracas. “The US is so important to Venezuela for energy exports, the idea would be suicidal.”

Regional tensions rise

Tensions between Venezuela and Colombia have grown over the years, but just as Colombian President Álvaro Uribe – a key US ally in the region – is set to leave office, the relationship hit another low.

Last week, Colombia presented evidence to the Organization of American States (OAS) alleging that some 1,500 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels are currently in Venezuela. Chávez denied the allegations and immediately cut off diplomatic relations with Colombia in retaliation.

Venezuela has warned Colombia over aggression in the region in the past, particularly after Colombia launched a raid on Ecuadorean soil in 2008 on a FARC camp, killing FARC leader Raúl Reyes. Chávez then put his military on high alert, sending troops to the border its shares with Colombia. And after a plan last year was revealed to allow US military access to Colombian bases, Chavez warned of a possible US attack from South American soil.

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