Colombia Presses Venezuela for Action Against FARC Rebels

By Dialogo
May 24, 2012

Colombia said on May 22 it expected Venezuela to take “effective” action against leftist FARC guerrillas suspected of seeking refuge there after staging an ambush that killed 12 Colombian soldiers.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon welcomed President Hugo Chavez’s pledge to send troops to the border areas between the neighboring South American states as “an appropriate gesture.”

“Now the important thing is that they be effective and really take action,” he said in an interview broadcast on W Radio.

The Colombian soldiers were killed on May 21 in a remote rural area near their country’s northernmost border with Venezuela in the Guajira Peninsula by guerrillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The Colombian military said it was “very likely” that the guerrillas crossed from Venezuela to stage the attack, and then fled back across the border.

“We cannot allow ourselves to get mixed in with a conflict that is not our own,” Chavez said on May 21 to state-run VTV television, while announcing that he had ordered a beefed-up border presence.

Pinzon said Chavez and Santos and their respective military chiefs had held talks on the security problems just before the ambush.

He said it has long been known that “there are people who use the border as a foil. The time has come for communications with the Venezuelan authorities in these cases.”

The FARC have stepped up attacks on Colombian security forces over the past year in remote parts of the country.

In April, 15 soldiers were killed during confrontations in the southern department of Caquetá, while on March 11 other soldiers were ambushed and killed in the eastern department of Arauca, which also borders Venezuela.