Colombian guerrillas operate freely in Venezuela and some occasionally appear in public in Caracas, a U.S. ambassador-designate alleged in comments released Wednesday that back claims by Bogota which sparked a bitter diplomatic row between the neighbor nations.
Larry Palmer, who has been nominated as the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, made the comments in a written answer to questions from a U.S. senator released Wednesday, offering a more detailed explanation of Washington’s view of the dispute.
Palmer said he was “keenly aware of the clear ties between members of the Venezuelan government” and leftist Colombian guerrillas, including the FARC.
He said FARC guerrillas “maintain camps in Venezuela, and members of the FARC high command have occasionally appeared in public in Caracas.
“The Venezuelan government has been unwilling to prevent Colombian guerrillas from entering and establishing camps in Venezuelan territory.”
The response released by Senator Richard Lugar was more specific than that from a State Department official last month who said that allegations that Venezuela is harboring leftist Colombian guerrillas in its territory should be taken “very seriously.”
Palmer promised that, if confirmed, he will “continue to monitor closely other aspects of Venezuela’s democracy that are currently threatened, including freedom of expression and of the press, the right to own private property, and freedom of association for civil society.”
Despite the differences, Washington remains “open to a substantive dialogue” he said.
On July 22 Bogota accused Caracas of harboring some 1,500 leftist Colombian rebels, a charge fiercely denied by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The charges deepened a rift between the South American neighbors and led to a break of diplomatic ties.
The Senate begins its summer recess on Friday, so a vote on Palmer’s confirmation will likely have to wait until the senators reconvene until September. (AFP)