The Colombian government Thursday morning claimed to have recent and indisputable proof that FARC leaders including Ivan Marquez and Rodrigo Granda are hiding out in Venezuela, and said it will make the alleged evidence public in the next few hours.
“A high-ranked government official” reportedly told Caracol Radio that the Colombian government hopes the “proof” will not damage the possibility of restoring severed relations with Venezuela.
“It is not an attempt to torpedo the new [Colombian] government, said the source, nor to undermine its foreign relations policy, but rather to expose [Venezuelan] President Hugo Chavez with this new evidence,” Caracol Radio states.
Chavez had authorized a meeting between his Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and the incoming foreign minister of Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, Maria Angela Holguin, as a step towards repairing diplomatic ties.
“This indication from the Casa de Nariño that the heads of the FARC are in Venezuela will complicate relations and may suspend their re-establishment,” Caracol Radio comments.
Colombia has made numerous accusations that Venezuela harbors FARC guerrillas within its borders. The Venezuelan government has always vehemently denied the allegations and maintains Venezuela is not a guerrilla safe haven.
Diplomatic relations between Bogota and Caracas were fractured following Colombia’s military incursion onto Ecuadorean soil in March 2008, which resulted in the death of FARC commander “Raul Reyes” and 25 others.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called the incident a “criminal” act by a”terrorist state.” He denounced the Colombian incursion onto Ecuadorean soil as a violation of the sovereignty of a brother country.
NGO Refugees International told Colombia Reports of a “visible presence” of guerrillas in Venezuela.
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. Chavez views the pact as an attempt to undermine regional sovereignty.
Chavez’s government stated that they would not consider restoring relations while outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe remained in office.
President-elect Santos professed himself to be “very pleased” after Chavez expressed willingness to reopen a dialogue with Colombia and attempt to re-establish severed ties.
Prior to Santos’ election on June 20, Chavez was vocal in his contempt for the former defense minister, whom he called “the number one Yankee lapdog of Colombia” and “a real mafioso.”