Venezuela: “The Colombian Government has lied blatantly”

The diplomatic crisis sparked by Colombia's military incursion into Ecuador intensified today as Venezuela closed its border with Colombia in response to Colombian accusations that the Venezuelan government had funded the FARC.
Venezuela Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua announces closure of Venezuelan border (VTV)

Caracas, March 4, 2008 ( –
A diplomatic stand-off between Colombia and its neighbors Ecuador and
Venezuela, triggered by Colombia's military attack on the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Ecuadorian territory, (which resulted in the
deaths of 16 guerrillas, among them Raúl Reyes, the FARC second in command),
intensified Tuesday as Venezuela closed its border with Colombia in response to
Colombia's accusations that the Venezuelan government had funded the FARC.

Colombian National Police director Oscar
Naranjo, claimed yesterday that documents allegedly found in three computers
seized during Colombia's raid, show that the Venezuelan government has provided
$300 million to the FARC and that the guerrilla group has acquired 50 kilograms
of uranium. The Colombian government also claims that documents show links
between Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and the FARC.

Both Ecuador and Venezuela dismissed the claims
as "absolute lies" and have sent thousands of troops to their borders with
Colombia and expelled Bogotá's ambassadors out of their countries. Venezuelan
Agriculture Minister Elías Jaua, announced today that Venezuela has also taken
measures to close its border with Colombia.

In an extraordinary session of the Organization
of American States (OAS), today Venezuelan representative Jorge
Valero said, "The Colombian government has lied blatantly. All of the
accusations the Colombian government has made against Venezuela and Ecuador are
false, totally false."

"They are trying to
confuse international opinion in order to evade their own responsibility," he

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, whose government receives $600 million
a year in military aid from the U.S. insisted today he was going to take Chavez
to the International Criminal Court for "sponsoring and financing genocide" by
allegedly providing money to the guerrillas.

Retired Venezuelan General, Alberto Müller Rojas described Colombia's "evidence"
as an "exercise in falsification" and
pointed out that "the only foreign government that finances the conflict in
Colombia is the United States."

Others have also questioned the validity of the documents; "The handling
of that evidence has been pretty disastrous," Gerson Arias, an analyst with the
Ideas Para la Paz think tank in Bogotá, was quoted as saying in the Christian
Science Monitor.

However, U.S. President George Bush in a statement today said that he
"fully supports" Colombia, and accused Venezuela of "provocation." He did not
mention Ecuador.

Bush also called on the U.S congress to ratify a free trade agreement
with Colombia, which U.S Democrats have been stalling citing Colombia's
terrible human rights record.

"By acting at this critical moment we can show the Colombian people and
millions across the region that they can count on America to keep its word and
that freedom is the surest path to prosperity and peace," he said.

Bush reiterated, "America will continue to stand with Colombia as it
confronts violence and terror and fights drug traffickers."

Venezuelan Vice President Ramón Carrizalez Rengifo, said the claims
that Venezuela is funding the FARC and that the guerrilla group is planning to
make a radioactive bomb are part of a crude campaign to smear Venezuelan
President Chavez and an attempt to link the Venezuelan government with weapons
of mass destruction. The United States
government used this pretext to invade and occupy Iraq and control its oil he
pointed out.

Chavez has also accused the Washington, together with Colombia of
planning to invade Venezuela, which is the fourth largest supplier of oil to
the U.S. and is believed to possess some of the largest untapped oil reserves
in the world.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro expressed concern on Sunday
that the Colombian military actions in Ecuador could be a prelude to a similar
incident on Venezuelan soil saying he had received intelligence to that effect.

"We condemn the intention to translate the disastrous experience of Iraq
to the Latin American continent. We cannot allow the warmongers of Colombia to
extend the armed conflict in their country and transfer it to the entire
continent, " Valero told the OAS meeting.

President Correa also warned of a potential war, "This is not a
bilateral problem, it's a regional problem," he told Mexican television.
"Should this set a precedent, Latin America will become another Middle East."

Latin American governments have overwhelmingly condemned Colombia's
military actions. Argentine President Cristina Fernández,
said "the flagrant violation of international law is inadmissible. What has
occurred requires an immediate explanation by Colombia that satisfies the
Ecuadorian government."

Ecuador asked the OAS to "condemn the territorial and sovereignty
violation by one state against another" and asked for an OAS commission to
look into Saturday's raid.

Correa has embarked on a five-nation tour to shore up support for the
resolution in the OAS condemning Colombia's actions and has also called for an
emergency meeting of Latin American foreign ministers by March 11 to resolve
the crisis.