Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claimed Friday that the Colombian government is unfairly “playing the victim” in the arrest of eight Colombians accused of espionage, and trying to “undermine” future relations between the two countries.
In a statement released released Friday morning, Chavez blasted Colombia for its “unacceptable position” on the arrest of the Colombians, reports El Espectador.
“The government of Alvaro Uribe has gone public with an unacceptable position in regards to the legitimate and substantiated complaints by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela following the discovery of an espionage operation against Venezuela,” the socialist leader complained.
“Once again the current Colombian government is presenting itself as the victim, in a case involving a group of captured people with flagrant proof of espionage committed against our country. This is a move of distraction, in front of the seriousness of the facts that demonstrate the constant action of groups consipiring against peace and security.”
The statement went on to say that the response from Colombia represents “an attempt to undermine, in a lasting way, the possible path towards re-establishing normal relations with Venezuela.”
Chavez described the Uribe government as trying to undermine the future Colombian president’s ability to mend the relationship between the two countries, saying that Uribe “is not content with having just destroyed the political, diplomatic, and commercial relations between Venezuela and Colombia, but now he is trying to force his presidential successor to adopt this sad legacy as well.”
On Thursday, Chavez announced that he had evidence that the eight arrested Colombians detained were involved in espionage, such as computers, photographs, secret or semi-secret codes, strange activities, and contradictory statements between the accused.
Chavez’s statement on Friday blasting Colombia’s “unacceptable position” comes in response to a request on Thursday from Colombia’s Foreign Ministry, which requested “urgent intervention” by the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of the eight Colombians.
The Colombian ministry also sent a letter to Venezuela demanding guarantees that the “fundamental human rights” of the detainees be respected, and expressing “deep concern over Venezuela’s systematic process of stigmatization that judges Colombians simply for being [Colombian].”
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe voiced concerns Wednesday that Venezuela’s detention of the Colombians constitutes a human rights violation, because the detainees “are being persecuted for being Colombian.”
The eight Colombian nationals accused of espionage, all members of the same family, were arrested on March 29 in Venezuela after Canadian-Colombian doctor Luis Carlos Cossio took a photo of a military telecommunications tower.