Colombia Seeks Common Crime-Fighting Strategy with Neighbors

By Dialogo
January 27, 2011



Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera launched a call to Colombia’s
neighbors on 25 January to implement an “international strategy” against criminal
gangs.

“What is required is a high-level international border-security strategy,
with cooperation agreements with neighboring countries and the support of the
international community,” the minister affirmed during a meeting with reporters in
Bogotá.

“Such a strategy is necessary, since the fight against transnational crime is
not the fight of a single country, but that of the entire international community,”
he emphasized, calling also for an adequate policy of “hardening the
border.”

On 20 January, Rivera had announced an offensive against kidnapping and
extortion in an area on the border with Venezuela, where local authorities charge
that guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the
National Liberation Army (ELN) are committing crimes from the Venezuelan
side.

That same day, eight Colombian soldiers were wounded during clashes with
alleged FARC guerrillas in a wooded area located between the departments of Nariño
and Putumayo, on the southern border with Ecuador.

After months of severe disagreements, Venezuela broke off relations with
Colombia in July 2010, after Colombia’s president at the time, Álvaro Uribe, charged
that Colombian guerrillas were operating in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Quito broke off ties with Uribe’s administration as a result of a
Colombian bombardment of a clandestine FARC base on its border territory, on 1 March
2008, which killed the guerrilla group’s second-ranking leader, Raúl Reyes, and
twenty-four others.

Juan Manuel Santos’s inauguration in August marked the resumption of
bilateral ties, on 10 August with Venezuela and on 26 November with
Ecuador.



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