Jesus Gonzalez, former head of the Operational Strategic Command of the Venezuelan armed forces told the Venezuelan website 2001 on Thursday that his nation’s soldiers are “at a disadvantage” against Colombian guerrilla organization the FARC.
According to Gonzalez, because of the FARC’s “extraordinary experience” in the border region with Colombia, the guerrilla can pass from one side to the other with “great ease,” while Venezuelan troops only venture to the border area from time to time.
Gonzalez’s comments follow continued criticisms from Colombia that Venezuela is lax in enforcing border security and allows the FARC to pass through the border unhindered. Tensions between the two countries escalated in July, when Colombia alleged before the Organisation of American States (OAS) that FARC and ELN guerrilla leaders were hiding out in Venezuela.
The accusations prompted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to break all ties with his western neighbor.
Following the Santa Marta meeting, Santos told press that Chavez had agreed not to tolerate the presence of Colombian guerrillas on Venezuelan territory.
In a bid to alleviate tensions between the two nations, Colombia’s Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin announced Thursday that Colombia would not press for international verification of the allegations of a FARC presence in Venezuela. Instead a bilateral commission will be formed to address border and security issues.