The U.S. State Department said Friday that it supports Colombia’s proposal to send a verification commission to Venezuela, to confirm the presence of Colombian FARC and ELN rebels on Venezuelan territory
The proposal is one of several put forward by Colombia before the Organisation of American States (OAS). Colombia’s other demands include that Venezuela adhere to its international commitments, immediately dismantle the camps situated on its territory and arrest the guerrillas based there. In a statement made today, the U.S. State Department stated that Bogota’s accusations should be “taken very seriously.”
“Dialogue and cooperation, based on mutual respect, are the heart of the inter-american system. As such we support Colombia’s proposals,” said Virginia Staab, State Department spokeswoman. She described Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s decision Thursday to break relations with Colombia as “not a constructive path to reach the goal.”
Chavez made the decision to break all ties, following evidence presented to the Organization of American States by Colombia of the presence of 87 guerrilla camps in Venezuela.
Colombia is now considering whether to take evidence of numerous FARC and ELN camps in Venenzuela to the International Criminal Court (ICC), arguing that the guerrillas commit crimes against humanity and then seek refuge over the border.
Colombia and Venezuela have a long history of strained relations. Colombia has hinted in the past that it suspects Venezuela of harboring left-wing wing guerrillas, while Venezuela has complained of the spillover of Colombia’s lengthy conflict into its borders.
Relations between the neighbor nations were frozen in 2009, after Colombia signed a controversial military pact, which grants the U.S. access to seven military bases around Colombia. The socialist Chavez administration views the pact as a threat to regional sovereignty.