Venezuela Invites US Officials to see Results of Investigations of Alleged Links to Guerrillas

Venezuelan Ambassador, invited US officials to see the results of investigations of alleged links between his government and Colombian guerrillas. He also asked for chages to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that suggests those links.

Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States Bernardo Alvarez, sent a letter to members of the Subcommittees of International Operations, to Representatives of the U.S. Senate, and to other officials of the American government, to clarify several acusations against the Venezuelan government done by some Colombian newspapers.

“My country has been falsely accused of sheltering terrorist activities against Colombia in our territory, of supporting Colombian guerillas, and, by innuendo, it has even been suggested that there is some form of alliance between the Venezuelan government and Colombian subversives. This campaign has manipulated and misrepresented facts and has created false impressions and negative opinions about Venezuela,” Alvarez said.

According to Alvarez, the Venezuelan government has investigated several of the allegations, and he invited the U.S. officials meet in order to discuss their concerns and the results of those investigations.

The Ambassador also asked members of the Subcommittees of International Operations, to eliminate SEC. 687 in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill (HR2800) on the grounds that the way it is drafted, suggests that the Venezuelan government could be “assisting, harboring, or providing sanctuary for Colombian terrorist organizations.”

Article 687 of the bill (S.1426) states, “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant by this Act may be made available for assistance for the central Government of Venezuela if the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that the central Government of Venezuela is assisting, harboring, or providing sanctuary for Colombian terrorist organizations.”

“It has always been my understanding that the United States stands on the principle that accusations should not be made prior to testing and validation of the underlying facts. Inclusion of the section at this time would violate that principle,” said Alvarez in his letter.

The Venezuelan government is supposed to receive approximately $5 million for fiscal year 2004, mainly for anti-drug trafficking aid and for strengthening Venezuela’s judicial system. If the aid is cut, then the $500,000 intended for strengthening Venezuela’s “civil society” would be increased to $5 million. The move would strengtheng the opposition movement in Venezuela even more, as they will be the main recipients of the aid. According to various investigations, Venezuelan opposition organizations already receive several million dollars of U.S. aid indirectly, mostly via foundations supported by the U.S. government, such as the National Endowment for Democracy.

Alvarez concluded saying that accusations such as the ones published in the Colombian media “are perceived by the [Venezuelan] Armed Forces as a offense to the Venezuelan nation, and the citizens who live in our border, who are true victims of the spilling of violence from Colombia.”

The letter can be read at