Colombia: 87 active guerrilla camps in Venezuela

Colombia’s ambassador to the Organization of American States, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, on Thursday presented evidence of 87 “active” and “consolidated” FARC and ELN guerrilla camps in Venezuela, and called for Caracas to act.

Hoyos said there was a “consolidated presence, active and growing of these terrorist groups in the brother country of Venezuela” and called on the socialist nation to “accept its obligation to impede the presence of these groups on its territory, which are not attacked or persecuted as they should be.”

The Colombian showed sections of a video of FARC leaders “Ivan Marquez” and “Rodrigo Granda” in a camp, which according to Hoyos was filmed in Venezuela. Hoyos said the entire video will be handed over to OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza.

Hoyos also presented a map marked with the locations of various guerrilla camps in the region. “If they say that this is not Venezuelan territory, then that would be because Venezuela gave it to the guerrillas,” he said.

One photo presented by the Colombian diplomat showed ELN guerrilla alias “Pablito” on a beach drinking a Venezuelan “Polar” beer.

Hoyos said that the guerrillas were “in a summer camp, getting fat, resting up and preparing to attack Colombia.” He also alleged that the camps were used for training guerrillas in the use of explosives and in kidnapping tactics.

The ambassador proposed the formation of a commission to verify Colombia’s allegations. “If Venezuela considers that this just a hoax then it won’t have any problem with allowing us to enter its territory. This verification mission needs to happen in the next 30 days, we can’t allow more time to pass.”

Hoyos reiterated Colombia’s willingness to work with Venezuela in the fight against terrorism but added that “these little angels can not continue in these summer camps. Venezuela needs to comply with its national and international obligations to track down these terrorists … and hand them over so they can be judged by the justice system.”

The Colombian government on Friday revealed what it said were the exact locations of top FARC and ELN guerrilla commanders, who the government claims are hiding out in camps in Venezuela.

Caracas has labelled the evidence “a pathetic media show,” with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claiming that this is a last ditch attempt on the part of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to sabotage the incoming Colombian government’s relations with Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government has always vehemently denied allegations that rebels are hiding in its territory, and maintains that Venezuela is not a guerrilla safe haven.

Venezuela broke diplomatic relations all together in 2009, after Colombia signed a pact that grants the U.S. military access to seven Colombian army bases. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez views the pact as an attempt to undermine regional sovereignty.

Chavez’s government has stated that it would not consider restoring relations while Uribe remains in office.

Before Colombia announced it had proof of guerrilla presence in Venezuela, Chavez had authorized a meeting between his Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and the incoming Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, as a step towards repairing diplomatic ties.

Bermudez denied Monday that the Uribe government sought to sabotage attempts to repair Colombia-Venezuela relations.

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