Over the last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has broken diplomatic ties with Colombia, warned his nation to prepare for an invasion and threatened to stop crucial oil exports to the United States — even if Venezuelans have to "eat rocks."
On Thursday, Venezuela has an opportunity to roll back the rhetoric when it presents a "peace plan" at an emergency session of the South American Union of Nations, or UNASUR, in Ecuador.
"We have to fix this problem at its root, which is the war in Colombia," Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro told Venezuela's national news agency.
It's unclear if the proposal will address Colombia's central demand: that international observers be allowed to visit dozens of sites inside Venezuela where it says some 1,500 leftist rebels have taken refuge and are using the country to launch raids into Colombia.
The current crisis began last week, when Colombia's ambassador to the Organization of American States presented a series of photographs and videos that he said were proof that leftist guerrillas belonging to the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, FARC, and the National Liberation Army, ELN, had set up at least 87 camps in Venezuela.
Chavez called the evidence a sham and severed all times with Colombia. Over the weekend, he accused the U.S. of pushing for a conflict with the aim of taking over Venezuela's vast oil wealth.
Despite Chavez's almost daily warnings that the nation is on the brink of war, few analysts here believe it. But they say the government is already waging — and sometimes winning — a more immediate battle: controlling the media message just two months before critical legislative elections.
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