Venezuela Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Colombia
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has severed diplomatic relations with neighboring Colombia after Bogota accused his country of harboring leftist guerrillas.
President Chavez made the announcement on national television Thursday, saying he was forced to sever all relations because Colombia claims he has failed to act against rebels who allegedly have taken shelter in Venezuelan territory. Mr. Chavez also said he has ordered Venezuelan military forces to be on "maximum alert" along the border.
President Chavez acted after Colombia went before the Organization of American States' permanent council in Washington to present photographs, maps and other documentation it said show leftist rebels hiding in Venezuela. Colombia's ambassador to the OAS, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, said the documents show what he called "the consolidated, active and growing presence of these terrorist bands in the brother country of Venezuela." He said Venezuela had not attacked the guerrilla groups as it should.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry recently described the Colombian government's accusations as a new attempt by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to destroy relations between the two countries. The ministry accused Colombia of "lies, aggression and disrespect" against Venezuela, saying Venezuela will take "firm" political and diplomatic measures if the situation continues.
Both Colombia and Venezuela have since recalled their respective ambassadors in the dispute.
Colombia requested the OAS session after charging last week that leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, and the National Liberation Army, or ELN, are based in Venezuela.
President Uribe, who has had tense relations with President Chavez, steps down next month after two terms in office. Bogota previously has accused Venezuela of financing and supporting Colombian FARC rebels, a charge Venezuela has denied.
In 2008, Venezuela and Ecuador broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after Colombian troops raided a FARC rebel camp in Ecuador, killing FARC commander Raul Reyes and at least 20 other people.
Article by VOA News