Venezuelan defense minister must answers FARC allegations: Colombian Liberals

Colombian Liberal party leader Simon Gaviria demands answers following allegations the new Venezuelan Defense Minister has close links to the FARC, .

In an interview with Colombian radio station La FM, Gaviria said, “We need answers to these serious allegations. In the past this sort of information would have triggered a huge crisis.”

The chairman of the Colombian House of Representatives called on Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to provide security and reassurance in the situation, without resorting to “the tactics of the past which just led to the breakdown of international relations.”

Henry Rangel Silva, who was recently sworn in to the Venezuelan government by President Hugo Chavez, has been accused by the US since 2008 of having FARC ties. He was put on the country’s so-called “kingpin list” of persons or companies who cannot do business with American companies because of their involvement in the drug trade.

Chavez has been accused of providing a safe haven to the FARC within Venezuelan borders, and recently offered to mediate talks between the Colombian government and the rebels.

Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin told La FM, “This issue will not be dealt with through the media, but in direct negotiation with the Venezuelan government.”

She admitted voicing government concerns during a recent meeting with Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro, but stated “The work of advancing relations and cooperation will continue, especially between our Armed Forces.”

She insisted, “Colombians can remain relaxed.”

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