Colombia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maria Angela Holguin, claimed Tuesday the country has made great advances in the fight against illegal armed groups in the past ten years, underscoring the importance of cooperation with neighboring countries.
According to the State Department’s annual terrorism report released Tuesday, attacks against government forces also increased in 2011, while the number of left-wing guerrillas killed, captured or demobilized had decreased. The document also said Venezuela supported guerrilla groups, the FARC and ELN, while additionally reporting that Cuba also provided rebels with medical and political assistance.
In response to the report, Minister Holguin highlighted increased cooperation with neighboring countries, especially Venezuela, despite the State Department claims that Hugo Chavez’ government has links to the FARC.
“We insisted on working in cooperation with neighboring countries to fight against organized crime and against illegal armed groups and we will continue to do so,” she said during the Colombian- United States High-Level Diaglogue, a series of meetings in Bogota between the two governments that touch on a range of topics, but primarily focus on drug trafficking and security policies.
In the meetings, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said it was important for the Colombian government to give attention to certain parts of the document, while noting the complexity of Colombia’s armed conflict and the fight against domestic and transnational crime.
Colombia-Venezuela relations have improved substantially since Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos took office in September 2010. The two countries have collaborated against organized crime on several occasions, including the arrest of alleged Venezuelan drug trafficker Walid Makled in Colombia in 2011 and the capture of Colombian drug lord “Diego Rastrojo” in Venezuela in 2012.