Venezuela’s Ambassador to the U.S.
The Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S., Bernardo Álvarez, rejected in the strongest terms possible any claims made regarding alleged links between the Venezuelan government and members of the Colombian insurgent groups Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN).
Officials from the government of President Alvaro Uribe today presented the supposed “evidence” of the presence of the Colombian insurgent groups to the Permanent Commission of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Ambassador Álvarez declared, “This is a new set-up that seeks the continuation of aggressions from sectors in the U.S. that are hostile to the democratic government of President Hugo Chávez. They also look to place obstacles before any opening of relations with Colombian President-elect Juan Manual Santos.”
“With this Uribe supplies Venezuela’s enemies in the U.S. with an a la carte menu of false accusations for the media and political campaign against President Chávez,” explained Ambassador Álvarez. “But these politics of aggression on the part of President Uribe and his allies against the region – and especially against Venezuela – have only succeeded in isolating Colombia,” added Álvarez.
The Uribe government first made these accusations on July 15, continuing a long-standing pattern of politically motivated and factually unsubstantiated attacks on the Venezuelan government centered on specious allegations of support for the FARC and ELN. Additionally, this new round of claims comes as President Uribe finishes his second term in office and ahead of the inauguration of his successor, Juan Manuel Santos, effectively threatening the possibility of a rapprochement between the two countries.
A History of False Accusations Against Venezuela
From the beginning of President Uribe’s administration, Venezuela has been accused of harboring members of the FARC and ELN. In every instance, those claims have been debunked.
In an infamous 2003 case, Moisés Boyer, who turned himself in to Colombian intelligence agencies, was profiled by the Colombian newspaper El Espectador as a first-hand witness to the alleged support given by President Chavez’s government to the insurgent groups. Subsequently, the newspaper was forced to apologize to readers because Boyer’s identity and claims were found to be false. More recently, an allegation that Venezuela had provided the FARC with anti-tank rocket launchers crumbled when it was shown that the very rocket launchers had been stolen from a Venezuelan military installation in 1995 – a theft that was then reported to Colombian authorities.
Similarly, a laptop allegedly “recovered” during an illegal attack on a FARC camp in Ecuadorean territory in March 2008 allegedly proved that links existed between Venezuela and the insurgent group, but a basic analysis of the claims found that they were unfounded, un-provable, or had been doctored to implicate Venezuela. Additional claims of encampments of Colombian insurgent groups in Venezuela – when investigated by Venezuela authorities – turned up camps on the Colombian side of the border or no camps at all.
Though Colombia and Venezuela have had complex relations in recent decades, President Hugo Chavez long made clear his desire to expand and deepen ties between the sister nations. During his presidency and prior to the 2009 diplomatic crisis between the two countries, commercial exchanges between the two countries rose to historic highs under direct promotion by the Venezuelan government. President Chavez even offered to help mediate a humanitarian exchange in 2007 and 2008 that led to the release of several high profile hostages held by the FARC, including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors.
Unfortunately, the government of President Uribe has adopted a hostile attitude towards Venezuela and its regional neighbors, including the signing of a secret deal with the U.S. in late 2009 virtually ceding seven Colombian bases to U.S. military forces, intelligence officials, and defense contractors. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) criticized the agreement.
Finally, in response to Colombia’s presentation to the OAS, Ambassador Álvarez sought to remind the U.S. public and media of the dangers of politically motivated and selective intelligence:
“Colombia’s presentation to the OAS has echoes of Iraq, when Secretary of State Colin Powell argued passionately before the UN Security Council that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
We now know the consequences of doctored, selective, and politically motivated intelligence, and we cannot allow those mistakes to be repeated. The countries of the region, the media, and the general public must demand more from Colombia than the falsehoods they will present under cover of ‘evidence’ of links between Venezuela and Colombian insurgent groups.”
Read here more on the Uribe government’s false accusations against Venezuela in our fact sheet.
Photo: Larry Luxner, archives.
Press and Communications Office of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the U.S. / July 22, 2010