Venezuela’s first ambassador to Colombia since November 2007 said
Thursday that his country doesn’t allow the presence of guerrillas and
is fighting against drug trafficking.
“Venezuela has always exercised sovereignty over its borders, has
absolute control of all areas, and especially in the border region
doesn’t support rebel groups and criminals who may be within our
territory,” said Gustavo Marquez in assuming his ambassadorship, a post
left vacant for a year and a half.
Earlier this month, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe asked his
Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, to capture FARC guerrillas who
killed nine soldiers in a border region in late April, and who the
Colombian Army says have taken refuge in Venezuela.
The Chavez government is fighting a “war to the death” in an effort to
“definitely block drug trafficking,” Marquez told reporters.
Caracas is combating drug trafficking because “we know very well that
in some ways, Venezuela has historically served as a transit country
for drugs,” he said.
Marquez replaced Pavel Rondon, who left Bogota in November 2007.
Tensions between the two neighboring countries soared in early 2008,
after Colombia bombed a FARC rebel base inside Ecuador, an ally of
Venezuela. Both countries reinforced their border areas with soldiers,
but stopped short of military action.
Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, with an estimated 7,000 fighters,
FARC continues to hold some 22 Colombian police and soldiers it wants
to exchange for imprisoned colleagues. Estimations of the total number of hostages held by the rebels vary from 125 to 700.