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Chavez says could nationalize Colombian firms

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said a serious diplomatic crisis with Colombia will mean reduced trade between the two countries and he will consider government takeovers of Colombian companies in Venezuela. 

Venezuela will seek goods from other countries to replace products it gets in its $6 billion annual commercial exchange with Colombia, Chavez said. “We’re going to make a map, ministers, of the Colombian businesses here in Venezuela. We could nationalize some, take them over, we aren’t interested in Colombian investments here,” Chavez said at a joint news conference in Caracas with Ecuador President Rafael Correa. Chavez made similar threats against Spanish companies in a diplomatic confrontation with that country last year, but the reprisals never materialized.

OPEC nations and leftist allies Venezuela and Ecuador have teamed up in heavy criticism of US ally Colombia this week after Colombian troops broke international law over the weekend crossing the border into Ecuador to kill more than 20 Colombian Marxist guerrillas. Colombia, backed by the United States but condemned by most Latin American leaders, accuses Ecuador and Venezuela of harboring the FARC rebels.

Venezuela and Ecuador have sent troops to their borders with Colombia and cut off diplomatic ties. Chavez also said that Venezuelan investments in Colombia could be sold off. Trade between Colombia and Venezuela was limited to bare necessities on Wednesday with Venezuela allowing in only perishable goods. (Reuters)