Skip to comments.Venezuela hardens stance on Colombia - Hugo Chavez recalls ambassador
Posted on 01/14/2005 12:55:11 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
CARACAS - Venezuela recalled its ambassador in Bogotá on Thursday after the Colombian government admitted paying a bounty for a leading guerrilla allegedly kidnapped in Caracas and handed over to Colombian police.
Colombian Defense Minister Jorge Alberto Uribe, who admitted making the payment, was a ''participant in a crime which may have international implications,'' said Venezuelan Vice President José Vicente Rangel.
The recall of Ambassador Carlos Santiago Ramírez was the latest and harshest step in the increasingly bizarre dispute over Rodrigo Granda, a senior member of the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
The clash could affect relations between the two main countries in northern South America -- with oil-rich Venezuela ruled by leftist President Hugo Chávez and Colombia ruled by U.S.-backed conservative President Alvaro Uribe -- although their relations have seen previous ups and downs.
Venezuelan investigators allege that Granda was snatched near a cafe in central Caracas on Dec. 13 and smuggled into neighboring Colombia, where he was officially arrested in the border city of Cúcuta. He is now charged with terrorism and rebellion. For several days, Colombia had remained silent on the details of Granda's capture.
The case has brought to light evidence that Granda obtained Venezuelan citizenship last year and traveled repeatedly to Ecuador on a valid Colombian passport in his own name -- and that Bogotá did not issue a warrant for his arrest until 2004.
Chávez has said Granda obtained his Venezuelan citizenship with ''false documents.'' And President Uribe has denied that his government did anything wrong in Granda's capture. But on Wednesday, Defense Minister Uribe -- no relation to the president -- acknowledged that his government paid money to the persons he said had delivered Granda to Colombia. He refused to identify them or their nationalities.
Late Thursday, Jesse Chacón, Venezuela's interior minister, said five members of the Venezuelan national guard's anti-kidnapping unit have been charged with carrying out the kidnapping. Chacón also said there might be Venezuelan police involved.
The various Venezuelan and Colombian government statements have done little to shed light on Granda's surprising ability to obtain Venezuelan citizenship and an Ecuadorean visa and ID card, all under his own name.
Chávez acknowledged Sunday that Granda won citizenship during a swift government operation last year that naturalized some 300,000 foreigners living in Venezuela.
His opponents charged at the time that the move was designed to allow the foreigners to vote for Chávez in an Aug. 15 recall referendum, which he won handily.
Chávez and Chacón have also denied that the government knew of Granda's presence here, even though he is known to have participated in two government-organized conferences just before he was seized.
Colombian authorities have sometimes complained that Chávez allows leftist guerrillas to operate in Venezuela and obtain local ID documents. In March 2003, President Uribe declared that he was ``ready to fetch the terrorists . . . from Venezuela, or wherever they are hiding.''
''What we previously suspected has now been confirmed,'' Colombian Sen. Jimmy Chamorro told The Herald, ``the relationship between the FARC guerrillas and the government of President Chávez.''
But documents obtained by The Herald from Ecuador's immigration office show Granda also entered that country more than 30 times between 1999 and 2004, using both a legitimate Colombian passport and an Ecuadorean government ID card, both in his own name.
''We had no notification that anyone was looking for him, not Colombian authorities or Interpol,'' Col. Jaime Hurtado, Ecuador's immigration chief, told The Herald.
Granda has been known as a FARC member since October 2002, when then-Venezuelan immigration chief Gen. Marcos Ferreira alleged that Granda's wife and daughter had been allowed into the country when they arrived on a flight from Cuba even though they did not have proper travel documents.
Ferreira said the decision was taken by then Interior Minister Ramón Rodríguez Chacín.
A recent FARC communiqué identified Granda as a member of the guerrillas' ``international commission.''
The FARC, Colombia's largest and oldest guerrilla group, maintains an office in Mexico City and a legal ''presence'' in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile and Europe, leftist Colombians said.
The representatives are usually FARC members or supporters identified more with the political than the military side of the guerrillas' struggle.
Hugo is cruising for a brusin. He is legalizing bad guys, and importing weapons big time. He is going to be a problem.
And so it starts. Shades of Dragon's Fury.
There is nothing positive about Chavez. He's a cancer growing in our hemisphere.
There is no meaningful difference between the "political" and "military" wings of a terrorist group; they are both fists on the same monster. The only reason anyone makes a distinction is to give themselves an excuse not to confront the leaders of terrorist movements.
This is the model we should have used in Iraq.
Exactly. ETA, Hamas, and all of the thriving terrorist groups have had their "political" wings. In Spain, they really only began to get a grip on ETA when the "political" wing was outlawed. Of course, that was under Aznar - now that the leftist Zapatero is in charge, ETA is basically going to get what it wants, a separate state in the Basque region, run by ETA's morphed "political wing." FARC is probably hoping for the same thing.
Sadly, all the things that you described have pretty much already happened. VZ has already been operating covertly within Colombia and has been a cross-border refuge for FARC for quite some time. And Chavez is fully connected with Cuba, the Chinese and AQ. Chavez has also stirred up and made alliances with every crackpot leftist movement in Latin America, particularly in the Andean region. This is a very dangerous situation, not only for the Colombians, but for us.
Time to go get the bastard.