Colombia: Venezuela Tries to Avoid a War

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June 15, 2007: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said he would not tolerate Colombian leftists or drug gangs setting up shop on his side of the border. As a token of his determination, he had a major drug gang leader arrested and deported to Colombia. But lower ranking Venezuelan officials are still making deals with FARC and drug gangs, because these outfits are still found on both sides of the border. Corruption in Venezuela is worse than in Colombia. Most of the violence on the Venezuelan side of the border is against Colombian intelligence agents trying to get information on drug gangs and leftist rebel in the area. Venezuela wants to avoid any open hostilities with Colombia, which has a much better trained, and combat experienced, military force.

June 9, 2007: While FARC is insisting on a "free zone" in return for the release of 60 celebrity hostages, the government is finding that the majority of Colombians oppose the swap because most of FARC members to be released are responsible for killing thousands of Colombians. This angers many voters, who have never had an opportunity to strike back at these murderers, and definitely don't want to see people who ordered many killings and kidnappings, to go free. This, more than the reluctance to provide another "free zone," may kill any swap deal. FARC is desperate to get the free zone, otherwise many of its fighters will have to flee to a neighboring country, or surrender.

June 8, 2007: Syrian arms dealer Monzer al Kassar has been arrested in Spain, when the U.S. presented evidence that Kassar was negotiating with FARC to provide large quantities of weapons. The Kassar organization has been providing weapons, legally and illegally, to rebel and terrorist organizations since the 1970s. Kassar has behaved himself in Spain, but apparently misjudged how badly FARC communications had been penetrated by American intelligence.

 

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