Bogotá May 18 rejected charges from Venezuela that 60 Colombian soldiers had entered its territory in what Caracas called a provocation aimed at destabilizing the region. “There has been no incursion,” Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos told local radio, saying a river in the area (the Arauca) would have prevented troops crossing. “It would have been practically impossible for it to happen as they say.” But Venezuelan Information Minister Andrés Izarra said he had photos and other “graphic materials” that prove the incursion took place.
Venezuela said the incursion occurred May 16, a day after President Hugo Chávez said he would review diplomatic and trade ties with Colombia following an Interpol probe that helped reinforce charges that he supports Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. The official Venezuelan statement said the incursion took place at Los Bancos, Páez municipality, Apure state, across from the Colombian municipality of Cubará, Boyacá department. Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, in a rare written protest, demanded Colombia “immediately cease these violations of international law.”(Reuters; NYT, La Patria, Manizales, Caldas, May 19)