Colombian President Alvaro Uribe commented Thursday on allegations of Venezuela-FARC-ETA links, saying that an investigation into a government official’s ties to terrorism doesn’t mean that the government itself is terrorist-affiliated.
“The fact is that if it is necessary to investigate a government official for participation in terrorism, that doesn’t mean that that government or that state are terrorists or even participating,” Uribe told a Medellin forum.
Uribe was alluding to a Spanish judge’s allegations that the Venezuelan government has collaborated with terrorist organizations the FARC and Basque separatist group ETA.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday his country won’t offer any help or explanations to clear up the allegations.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had asked Venezuela for an explanation of the matter.
The Venezuelan leader said his government didn’t want to damage diplomatic relations with Spain, but that he demanded respect from the Spanish government.
The diplomatic spat is the result of Spanish National Court Judge Eloy Velasco’s 26-page indictment which alleges a suspected member of Basque separatist group ETA, Arturo Cubillas Fontan, has held numerous high-level roles within Chavez’s government and acted as a link between the ETA, the FARC, and Venezuela.
The indictment also alleged that Caracas collaborated in a plot to assassinate Uribe, who has had a history of confrontations and insult-hurling with Chavez.
Diplomatic relations between Colombia and Venezuela were frozen after Colombia signed an agreement last year with the U.S. that allows the Americans to use Colombian military bases and civilian airports for counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism missions.
Chavez believes the agreement undermines sovereignty in the region, and is its most outspoken opponent.
The border region has long been a source of tension between the countries, as Venezuela accuses Colombia of allowing right-wing paramilitary fighters to enter Venezuelan territory, while Colombia says the border is often crossed by left-wing guerrillas seeking refuge in the neighboring country.