BOGOTA, April 19, 2011 (AFP) – Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said left-wing FARC guerrillas are probably operating in neighboring Venezuela but that leftist President Hugo Chavez was helping to battle them.
“It is likely that the guerrillas are also present in Venezuela, but I am confident that they are not under the protection of the Venezuelan government,” he told Radio Caracol on Monday.
“President Chavez has said: ‘If you find a FARC camp in Venezuela, give me the coordinates and we will respond immediately.’ When we have given him the information, he has responded,” he said.
The presence of FARC militants in Venezuela had been a recurrent source of discord between the two countries under Santos’s predecessor, Alvaro Uribe.
In July 2010 Chavez broke off relations with Colombia after Uribe accused Caracas of harboring some 1,500 fighters and filed a complaint with the Organization of American States (OAS).
Santos swiftly moved to reverse the policy, restoring diplomatic relations with Venezuela three days after his inauguration in August of that year.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is the country’s oldest and largest guerrilla force, believed to have some 8,000 members. The group has been at war with the government since its founding in 1964.