Colombia: December 13, 2004


Venezuela has increased patrols along the Colombian border, using new Russian Mil-17 helicopters to cover hundreds of kilometers of unpopulated jungle. Colombia has long complained of rebel groups setting up rest camps in Venezuela. These camps were tolerated as long as the Colombian rebels made no trouble. But the fighting between rightist and leftist rebels in Colombia spilled over into Venezuela. That prompted Venezuela to increase border security.

Ramiro Velez, the ELN commander for operations in southwest Colombia was captured near the Ecuador border. Velez was responsible for a 1999 incident where he and his men kidnapped the entire congregation of a church. 


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