Chávez refuses cooperation against FARC guerillas

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez April 30 defied the request of his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe to help catch FARC guerrillas that apparently killed eight Colombian soldiers and then fled to Venezuelan territory. Chávez said he had been “very clear with President Uribe and with Colombia: we do not support the Colombian guerrillas…but it is also not our war, it is Colombia’s war.” He added: “We will not interfere in that war. And there is no point in any kind of pressure. This is what President Uribe knows and what Colombia knows very well.”

Chávez said Uribe and his Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez had been trying to call him that day, but he had been too busy to talk to them. Chávez’s words—in a televized speech—contradict earlier statements by his Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduo, who had said a day earlier “it is our policy” to help catch the guerrillas who took refuge in Venezuela. (Colombia Reports, May 1)

The eight troops form the Army’s 10th brigade were killed in fighting with FARC guerillas in El Templado municipality of La Guajira department. Uribe publicly asked Venezuelan authorities to help capture the guerillas, “because there is evidence that they murdered them approximately a kilometer away from the border and these criminals are hiding in the neighboring country of Venezuela.”

“We are asking President Chávez and the Venezuelan authorities for support to capture them. These criminals must go to jail. They can not continue with this coward practice of murdering Colombians and then go and hide in neighboring countries,” Uribe added. (EFE, April 30; Colombia Reports, April 29)

Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos announced three weeks ago the country’s armed forces are carrying out a counter-guerilla offensive along the Venezuelan border—part of a campaign dubbed “Salto Estratégico” (Strategic Leap) aimed at bringing the war to FARC strongholds. (El Tiempo, Bogotá, April 17; Colombia Reports, April 10)

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