Referring to Colombian media reports that claimed Defense Minister Henry Rangels’s ties to the Colombian rebels, the Venezuelan official said, “you can not provide evidence to lies.”
“When ferocious slander and information campaigns are unleashed, my personal response has been the job, reinforcing the values and strengthening the love for the job,” Rangel added.
The Defense Minister was supported by Venezuela’s Interior Minister, Tarek El Aissami, who interrupted, saying “there is not a single piece of evidence that links the general to any illegal armed group.”
Rangel, who took charge of Colombia’s ministry in January, is on the U.S. State Department’s kingpin list of suspected drug traffickers who are not allowed to do any business with American companies.
The two Venezuelan ministers made the statements after meeting with Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon who said that Rangel “is committed to increased results against illegal groups. This is similar to our own commitment.”
El Aissami also denied a recent report by Medellin newspaper El Colombiano that, based on an interview with a demobilized FARC guerrilla, claimed that FARC leader Timochenko was operating from Venezuelan territory, only miles from the Colombian border.
“There exists no information regarding the presence of any element on Venezuelan territory,” the Venezuelan interior minister said.
Rangel, El Aissami and Pinzon met on the Colombo-Venezuelan border to discuss the increase in cooperation between Colombia and Venezuela to fight drug trafficking and crime, which is rampant on both side of the two countries’ border.
The two defense ministers agreed to create a joint intelligence database to initially curb the ongoing kidnapping in Venezuela in which Colombian criminal groups seem to be involved. Bogota and Caracas will also increase joint military operations near the border to combat drug traficking.
“When states unite, coordinate and work together, those who lose are the criminals and terrorists. Because of this we must continue moving ahead to strengthen cooperation mechanisms between the two countries,” said Pinzon.
Colombia and Venezuela have been working on improving ties since August 2010 when Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos took office. The ties between the two countries were cut over ongoing tensions between Santos’ successor Alvaro Uribe and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.