Hugo Chavez

In a major press conference on July 15, outgoing Colombian Minister of Defense Gabriel Silva briefed the national press on the presence of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leaders and camps in Venezuela. Silva reported the location of one such camp at the following coordinates: North 10° 40′ 42″ West 72° 32′ 03—close to the Venezuelan border city of Villa del Rosario. Silva said this camp appeared to be permanent and is used by FARC leader Ivan Marquez for meetings with the pro-FARC support group the “Bolivarian Continental Movement,” a political front for narco-terrorists. Silva added that other senior FARC officials operate with impunity inside Venezuela and maintain separate camps.

The FARC-Chávez  connection has previously been well documented, as has Venezuela’s growing connections with the drug trade, the foundation of FARC’s illicit income.

Silva concluded: “The continued and permanent tolerance of the presence of terrorists in that country is a threat to the security of Colombia.” He noted that it was important to set the record straight before President Uribe turns the reins of government over to President-elect Juan Manuel Santos on August 7.

As on previous occasions, Chávez responded by proclaiming his innocence and denying the allegations. Chávez’s officials said the area was checked and that no such camps have been found. They charged Colombia and the Uribe Administration with seeking to sabotage relations before Santos can take office. Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Colombia.

This latest round in the Colombia-Venezuela dispute merits serious attention by the newly established South American Defense Council, a part of South America’s UNASUR and by the Organization of American States (OAS) as well. Latin American diplomats and security experts need to step forward to support a serious investigation of Colombia’s allegations.

As made clear by this latest Colombia intelligence, Chávez ‘s association with international terrorism remains substantial and deeply-rooted within his increasingly opaque and secretive regime.