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Venezuela’s Chavez Backs Ecuador In Coca Spraying Dispute December 20, 2006

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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CARACAS (AP)–Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday backed Ecuador’s effort to halt Colombia’s aerial fumigation of coca crops along their border, saying Colombia should find another way to stamp out cocaine production.

Chavez voiced his support shortly after meeting with Ecuadorean President-elect Rafael Correa as he arrived in Venezuela. Correa will meet next with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Correa, a leftist who considers Chavez an ideological ally, said he had come to Venezuela to ask for “continental solidarity against something that is tremendously unjust.”

Before boarding a plane sent by Chavez in Ecuador’s capital of Quito, Correa told reporters that Colombia’s fumigation using Glyphosate is “simply unacceptable” because it kills legal crops on the Ecuadorean side of the border and causes health problems in producers.

As the two leaders smiled at each other, Chavez told Correa: “In this battle, Rafael… you have our solidarity and our support.”

“We think that Colombia should look for other methods,” he said, noting that Venezuela manually eradicates thousands of hectares (acres) of drugs each year.

“Let’s hope we can make our own plan – our own, South American – in the battle against drugs and that they don’t come and impose plans on us from the north,” Chavez said, referring to U.S.-Colombian anti-drug cooperation.

Colombia last week renewed spraying of coca, the plant used to make cocaine, to within 100 meters of the border because coca growers had swarmed into the area.

Correa said he plans to spend two days with Chavez, whom he describes as a friend, to discuss a deal for Venezuela to refine Ecuadorean crude and to import fertilizer in exchange for agricultural products.

Chavez has also said he hopes Ecuador will participate in oil projects in Venezuela’s crude-rich Orinoco River region.

Correa is expected to meet with Uribe on Friday, and said he hopes Colombia will halt the fumigation “as a show of friendship to the nation and to the future government.”

Since winning the Nov. 23 presidential runoff, Correa has visited leaders in Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Peru. He takes office Jan. 15.

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