Colombia will take evidence it says proves the presence of FARC and ELN guerrillas in Venezuela to a meeting of the Organization of American States next Thursday confirmed ambassador to OAS Luis Alfonso Hoyos.
“Colombia will present its case on the presence of rebel groups in Venezuelan territory, which affect Colombia’s national security” said ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos.
On July 15, Colombia claimed it had satellite photos, videos and intelligence from rebel deserters that proved several guerrilla commanders are living in Venezuela. They include those known by the aliases as Ivan Marquez and Timochenko, who are members of the high command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Several leaders of the smaller National Liberation Army, or ELN, also are in Venezuela, the Colombian government said.
In retaliation Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he won’t attend the inauguration of Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president-elect, and may stop importing Colombian goods if the accusations keep up.
“If Colombia continues with its madness, I will cut ties with the government in the coming hours,” Chavez said in his weekly television show. “If this continues, trade will become zero. We won’t buy anything from Colombia.”
Chavez has repeatedly clashed with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over the US military presence in Colombia and other issues, leading to a freeze in relations and a plunge in trade.
Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said it rejected accusations that it’s safeguarding leaders of the FARC and said that it would expel any members discovered in the country.
Colombian exports to Venezuela fell 70% in May, compared with the same period a year ago. Before relations soured, Venezuela was Colombia’s biggest export market after the US with annual trade in the region of 6 billion US dollars.
Chavez said that cutting ties would hinder his efforts to re-establish them with the new Colombian government that takes power Aug. 7.
“I am asking Santos to distance himself from Uribe” Chavez said.
Meantime in Bogotá members of the opposition, the press and some political analysts criticized outgoing President Uribe for announcing the accusations less than a month before he steps down, thus making a stormy relation with Venezuela, even more complex for president-elect Santos.