Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez denies that the Uribe government sought to sabotage attempts to repair Colombia-Venezuela relations, with the recent allegations that leftist guerrillas are hiding out in Venezuela.
The foreign minister said, “Our political responsibility is until August 7, some have interpreted this as a stick in the wheel for the incoming government but it is not like that, the underlying goal is not to obtain meetings but to achieve an effective objective in the fight against terrorism.”
Bermudez added that Colombia had always tried to open up a direct dialogue with Venezuela to counteract the guerrilla presence in the neighbouring country, but it had never been successful.
The Colombian government on Friday revealed evidence of the exact locations of top FARC and ELN guerrilla commanders, who the government claims are hiding out in camps in Venezuela. Caracas labelled the evidence “a pathetic media show.”
According to Caracol Radio, committees from the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defence will meet on Monday with Luis Alfonso Hoyos, the Colombian ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), in order to finalize the details of a presentation which shows the presence of leftist guerrillas in Venezuela.
Colombia will then present its evidence, which will contain videos, documents and photographs, before the OAS on Thursday.
Bermudez also commented on Venezuela’s reaction to the allegations, saying “We will not devote ourselves to respond to the statements made by the president of Venezuela.”
The minister’s comments follow an official Colombian government press statement released on Friday which said “For six years the Colombian government kept up a patient dialogue with the Venezuelan government, in which, on several occasions it gave information about the location of terrorists in this territory. Everything was unsuccessful with relation to guerrilla leaders. We must think again about going to the international authorities.”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday that he knew “very well what President Uribe’s desperation is due to” and insisted “we will not fall for the provocations of President Uribe, who is a mafioso and is capable of anything in these last few days he has left, he is full of hatred.”
Chavez also accused the Uribe administration of trying to sabotage the incoming Colombian government’s relations with Venezuela, “this is nothing but the desperation of a group of the extreme right who surround Uribe and try to generate a major conflict to stop Santos and Colombia from establishing respectful relations with its sister Venezuela.”
The Venezuelan government has always vehemently denied allegations that guerrillas 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 had stated that they would not consider restoring relations while Uribe remained 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.