Mérida, November 22, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Late last night, Colombian
President Alvaro Uribe put an end to the efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez to achieve a humanitarian agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia (FARC). Following several months of negotiations, Uribe announced
the end of the mediation efforts after Chavez made direct contact with the
Colombian military command. Both the French government and the family of Ingrid
Betancourt expressed opposition to Uribe's decision.
After placing several new
conditions on the negotiations in recent days, the Colombian president suddenly
ended the mediation efforts in an official communication released last night.
Earlier this week Uribe placed a December 31st deadline on Chavez' efforts, and
demanded that the FARC release the first group of hostages before any meeting
could take place between the FARC leadership and the Venezuelan president.
But as President Chavez
returned from a visit to French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the
continuation of negotiations, the Colombian President released a statement on
Wednesday night that put a sudden end to the mediation efforts.
The brief text of the
statement, read by Colombia's
Press Secretary Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, justified the decision to end
mediation efforts because of a telephone conversation between Chavez and the Commander
of the Colombian Army Mario Montoya.
"Senator Piedad Cordoba
called Army Commander General Mario Montoya on the telephone to set a meeting,
and then passed the telephone to President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez," said
the official statement. "President Chavez asked General Montoya questions
about the FARC hostages."
According to the statement,
President Uribe had spoken to Chavez at the recent meeting in Santiago,
Chile, telling him that he
was opposed to the Venezuela
president speaking directly to the Colombian high military command.
"For this reason, the President
of the Republic has put an end to the assistance of Senator Piedad Cordoba and
the mediation of President Hugo Chavez, to whom we thank for the help that they
were providing," concluded the statement.
But according to an advisor to
President Uribe, Jose Obdulio Gaviria, in a statement on a Colombian radio
station today, the dialogue between the Venezuelan President and General
Montoya was a brief greeting, and did not touch on compromising topics. Senator
Cordoba said the same thing, adding that their conversation did not last even
But Gaviria insisted that the
fact that the call took place in itself is "very serious" and
justified the decision of the Colombian president to terminate mediation
French President Nicolas
Sarkozy expressed his opposition to the Uribe decision Thursday morning, urging
the Colombian president to continue with the mediation efforts of Hugo Chavez
as the best way to achieve the release of the hostages.
"We still think that
President Chavez is the best opportunity for liberating Ingrid Betancourt and
all the rest of the hostages," said Sarkozy's spokesperson, David
Martinon informed the press
that the French president hopes that Uribe will reconsider his decision, and
that Sarkozy is in the process of sending a letter to Bogota to urge the Colombian president to "maintain
dialog" with President Chavez.
Family members of the
French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt also expressed their opposition to
the decision and criticized Uribe for making a "drastic" decision.
Betancourt's ex-husband Fabrice Delloye accused Uribe of not wanting a solution
to the Colombian conflict.
"Everyone is witness to
the fact that Uribe is an extremely difficult man who can change his mind from
one day to the next," he said. "He has demonstrated that he does not
want a peaceful solution nor does he want the hostages to return home."
Astrid Betancourt, sister of
Ingrid, also criticized the decision and called on the international community
to convince Uribe of the need to continue the mediation efforts of President
"We had confidence in the
work of Chavez and Cordoba,
because it is the only viable alternative," she said.
Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez and Colombian Senator Cordoba Piedad have carried out mediation efforts
with the FARC at the request of the Colombian government since September of
this year. The immediate goal was the release of 49 hostages in the hands of
the FARC guerrillas, in exchange for the release of around 500 incarcerated
The mediation efforts began to
make progress and led to a meeting between Chavez and high level FARC leaders
earlier this month. But Chavez insisted that a meeting with FARC leader Manuel Marulanda
would be necessary, to which the Colombian president would not give his
Venezuela's Ministry of
Communication and Information released a statement today, in which the
government expressed regret over Uribe's decision, but said that he accepts
this decision. "With surprise we received the decision of the Colombian
government to put an end to the mediation of President Hugo Chavez and the
facilitation of Senator Piedad Cordoba in the search for a humanitarian
exchange," read the statement.
"The government of Venezuela
accepts this sovereign decision of the Colombian government, but expresses its
frustration because in this way a process is being aborted that was moving
along with a strong pulse in the midst of great difficulties, having obtained
in merely three months important advances that made one already think about the
possibility of a solution to this essentially human drama that affects our sister
and beloved Colombia," continued the government statement.
Finally, the statement also indicates that the
Venezuelan government is ready to continue to offer its service to achieve