Chavez Threatens to Cut Off U.S. Oil

Source:

"We wouldn't send another drop of oil to [U.S.] refineries."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to cut off oil supplies to the United States if his country was attacked by U.S.-backed Colombia in a dispute over allegations that Venezuela provides a haven for Colombian guerrillas.

"If there is any armed aggression against Venezuela from Colombian territory or anywhere else supported by the Yankee empire, we would suspend shipments of oil to the United States, even if we have to eat stones here," Chavez told thousands of supporters in an outdoor speech.

"We wouldn't send another drop of oil to its refineries, not a single drop more," he added.

If actually carried out, such a threat would be a big blow for the Venezuelan economy. More than 90 percent of its export earnings are from oil. The United States is the top buyer of oil from Venezuela, which is one of the U.S. main oil suppliers.

Venezuela ruptured its diplomatic ties with Colombia on Thursday after Bogota accused Venezuela of harboring Colombian guerilla chiefs.

Chavez has accused Washington of trying to unseat him since he survived a 2002 coup and called a stronger Colombia-U.S. military relationship a threat to his country.

The Obama administration voiced Friday its concerns over Venezuela's link with Colombia's anti-government guerrillas and called for an international investigation into the diplomatic crisis.

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said it was a "petulant" response by Venezuela to cut off relations with Colombia.

Analysts say Chavez's response to Bogota's allegations could be a tactic to rally supporters and distract from domestic issues such as high inflation and crime ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

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