BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Luis Alfonso Hoyos, Colombia’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), said his country will present “the case of the presence of narco-terrorist groups in Venezuelan territory” to the OAS Permanent Council in Washington, D.C., on July 22.
Colombia’s Defense Minister Gabriel Silva recently denounced the presence of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) terrorists in Venezuela.
“[The Colombian government] has up-to-date information that in a camp located 23 kilometers from the border in the Perijá range in the [Venezuelan] state of Zulia, terrorist Iván Márquez, who has a security detail of fifty men, is holding meetings with other terrorists of the FARC,” Silva said at a recent media conference.
Suspected FARC operatives who have found haven in Venezuela include Rodrigo Granda, alias “Ricardo,” Timoleón Jiménez, alias “Timochenko” and Germán Briceño Suárez, alias “Grannobles.” “Pablito,” one of the bosses of the ELN, is protected by more than 25 guerrillas in the state of Apure, in the southwestern corner of Venezuela, according to Colombian officials.
“This information that I share with you by order of the President of the Republic has been collected through technical intelligence work, personal [human] intelligence and testimonies of those who have defected from the guerrillas,” Silva said.
The Colombian government had provided Chávez’s administration with all of its intelligence regarding suspected terrorists residing in Venezuela but stopped in 2007 because the rebels were not expelled or apprehended, Silva said.
“The deterioration of the relations [between Venezuelan and Colombia] is the continued and permanent tolerance of [Venezuela] to the presence of terrorists in its territory, which constitutes a threat to the security of Colombia,” Silva said.
The Colombian government issued a statement saying it would denounce the Venezuelan government in international organizations such as the United Nations Security Council and the OAS, until Venezuela “commits to the fight against the FARC and the ELN.”
Chávez responded by saying he would not accept the invitation to attend the inauguration of Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos and may sever the nations’ business ties.
The Venezuelan government recalled its ambassador to Bogotá, Gustavo Márquez, to Caracas on July 16 for consultations. The allegations from Colombia are “a desperate attempt to undermine relations between the two countries,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“If Colombia continues with its madness, I will cut ties with the government in the coming hours,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said during a recent televised speech. “If this continues, trade will become zero. We won’t buy anything from Colombia.”