Venezuela's Chavez severs ties with Colombia over FARC

The Miami HeraldJuly 23, 2010 

Venezuela severed diplomatic relations with Colombia and threatened to cut economic ties, after the neighboring nation presented what it said was proof that some 1,500 leftist guerrillas were using dozens of camps here to "get fat" and launch attacks.

While ambassadors from the two nations were still dueling over evidence at a special session of the Organization of American States in Washington on Thursday, Chavez took to the steps of the national palace to say he was cutting ties with Colombia and placing border troops on maximum alert.

Venezuela has "no choice but to completely break our diplomatic relationships with our sister Colombia," Chavez said. "And that makes my heart shed a tear."

On Thursday, Colombia's ambassador to the OAS, Alfonso Hoyos, presented a series of photographs and videos that he said showed members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, inside Venezuelan territory.

Hoyos said there were at least 87 guerrilla bases, which the FARC used to launch raids and orchestrate kidnappings inside Colombia.

"They are there, like at a summer camp -- getting fat, resting and getting ready to attack Colombia," said Hoyos, who asked the OAS to inspect the sites. "They are very relaxed, not the way they are in Colombia."

Venezuela's representative to the OAS, Roy Chaderton Matos, accused Colombia of staging the photographs and fabricating evidence.

"We have said one thousand times that we do not accept irregular forces in our territory," he said.

State-run TeleSur television station said the armed forces had inspected the areas and found nothing.

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