Two articles follow.
July 16, 2010
By Natalia Ramos (AFP) – 8 hours ago
CARACAS — Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Bogota on Friday a day after Colombia’s president claimed that leftist rebel leaders fighting his government were in the neighboring South American nation.
In a fresh sign of rising tensions, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said ambassador Gustavo Marquez was recalled to Caracas to help “evaluate a series of measures” that Venezuela is examining.
Maduro said the ambassador had been given an “official protest letter rejecting the lies and falsehoods put forward by the government of (Colombian) President Alvaro Uribe.”
On Thursday, Colombia said it had evidence that five leaders of leftist guerrilla groups, which have been waging an armed campaign against the government since the 1960s, were in Venezuela.
Colombia and Venezuela froze diplomatic ties last year after Bogota and Washington inked a military cooperation agreement Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez considered a threat to regional security.
In Bogota meanwhile, officials said the government would seek to bring the matter to unspecified “international organizations.”
“Over the past six years the Colombian government has maintained a patient dialogue with the government of Venezuela, during which we offered, on a number of occasions, information on the whereabouts of terrorists on its territory,” a statement from the president’s office said.
“All of this has failed to produce results on the issue of terrorist leaders. We must now consider bringing the issue to international organizations.”
The statement repeated the claim from Bogota about “the presence in Venezuela of terrorists who are seeking to attack our country.”
Uribe’s office on Thursday said the rebel leaders in Venezuela included four key members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and one from the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN), both of which have been waging an armed campaign against the Colombian government since the mid-1960s.
Chavez meanwhile accused Uribe of trying to thwart a normalization of relations when the Colombian leader leaves office August 7.
Uribe, who has had tense relations with his Venezuelan counterpart will be succeeded by his former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos, who has signaled a les hostile approach to Caracas.
“This is a desperate move by an extreme-right group surrounding Uribe to try to provoke a large conflict and to prevent Santos from re-establishing respectful relations” with Venezuela, Chavez said.
Chavez said he hoped the new president “honors his word… despite his past,” in an apparent reference to a decision by Santos as defense minister two years ago to bomb a suspected FARC camp in Ecuador, a move denounced by Chavez.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the United States was “examining” the reports of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela.
“Some of this is not new, in the sense that there have been concerns for some time of…. cross-border interaction or involvement in insurgent activities — the terrorist activities within Colombia,” Crowley said.
Crowley added Venezuela has not cooperated on “anti-terrorism” efforts as it should.
“Venezuela is obliged, as a member of the United Nations, the OAS (Organization of American States) and UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations) to deny terrorist groups the ability to operate within its territory,” he said.
Álvaro Uribe will leave office in three weeks
The relations between the two South American countries were “frozen” last year by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in rejection of a military agreement between Bogota and Washington
The Colombian government said on Friday that it would take the case of the alleged presence in Venezuela of rebel leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) to international organizations. It added that it held “patient” but “unsuccessful” talks with Venezuelan authorities for six years.
Colombia has filed several complaints in recent months with the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS), in the context of deteriorating relations with Venezuela, DPA reported.
The announcement was made in a brief statement released by the Colombian presidential palace Casa de Nariño, which is the seat of the Executive power, after Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva showed reporters what he described as evidence of the presence of Colombian rebels in Venezuela.
The government presided over by Álvaro Uribe said for the first time in eight years that it has proofs that a member of FARC’s governing secretariat is hiding in Venezuela. “There are also leaders of ELN,” said Silva.
Before Silva’s statements on Thursday, several Colombian newspapers published a number of related Op-eds, while President Álvaro Uribe on Tuesday referred to a “slug and extremely soft diplomacy.” Colombian newspaper El Tiempo published an article claiming that “there are terrorists of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Venezuelan territory.”
Silva made the announcement following a meeting with editors and media representatives. He showed them video recordings and the exact grid coordinates of Luciano Marín Arango, aka “Iván Márquez”, Rodrigo Granda, “Jesús Santrich” and other FARC leaders. The media were aware of some of these videos.
Experts have different opinions concerning the motivations of the Colombian government to disclose this information three weeks before the inauguration of president-elect Juan Manuel Santos.
Vicente Torrijos, an expert in international affairs, said that President Uribe is trying to draw the new government’s attention to the interventionist nature of the Bolivarian revolution.
Meanwhile, Jairo Libreros, a professor at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, said that Uribe is using a rehash to have an impact on President Santos’ foreign policy.
Translated by Gerardo Cárdenas