Sorry for the delay – Machetera took a little translation holiday to rest her eyes.
Quick now, today’s quiz:
Eleazar Díaz Rangel – Ultimas Noticias
For some years, denunciations have come from Colombia, supported by some Venezuelans, that guerrilla groups are operating in our [Venezuelan] country; that they are crossing the border with the greatest of ease and that they’ve turned Venezuela into a base from which to operate as well as rest. Occasionally there’ve been concrete assurances that various FARC leaders were on this side of the border. Now it’s become known that similar denunciations have been made against the government of Ecuador, which supposedly tolerates and supports [the guerrillas].
During the previous Caldera government, guerrilla incursions happened with some frequency, operating in various places against Venezuelan military posts. The bloodiest attack of all was that which took place at Cararabo, where several Venezuelan Armed Forces troops were killed.
Despite strong Venezuelan troop emplacement, a border as large as that between Colombia and Venezuela was impossible to protect without Colombian cooperation, and so the emphasis was on reinforcements of strategic points and the petroleum industry. I don’t know if you’ve read the recent statements from the Ecuadoran defense minister, acknowledging that they’ve not been any better at controlling the entire border with Colombia. Some years back, the Clarín newspaper (June 18, 1997) published a study that revealed that “the Colombian guerrillas extend through five countries,” according to one of Bogota’s intelligence reports.
There was a time when Venezuela wanted to engage in hot pursuit, to enable our troops to chase these groups across the border. The Colombian response was always “no.”
Now, it insists on making denunciations supported by the U.S. Southern Command and certain Venezuelan politicians, who make similar allegations, which impact foreign media. The most reprehensible is that now they’ve gone so far as to attack Ecuadoran territory, with the evident result, pretending that it’s part of their strategy of preventive war.
Now it’s worth asking: Where is the FARC? Even supposing that groups still exist in Venezuela and Ecuador, and that they easily cross borders guarded by Venezuelan and Ecuadoran military on one side and Colombian on the other, and everyone lets them pass, the bulk of their forces (in the thousands) with camps containing up to 300 hostages, would have to be assumed to be in Colombia.
They’ve been there since the formation of the first groups in 1949, and since 1964 when the FARC was created, and later when the National Liberation Army (ELN) and other groups appeared. They spread to other areas of Colombian territory. Assuming that some 250 guerrillas are in Ecuador and Venezuela, that would be barely 3% of the guerrilla troops, according to the calculations of Colombian military authorities.
Some 10,000 are in Colombia. And how is it possible that their military forces tolerate their presence? What is the explanation for their lasting so long on Colombian soil without having been exterminated? How is it that this situation has gone on for some 60 years? Why is there not the same tolerance, concealment and complicity that the powerful drug cartels have had? If it is assumed that they couldn’t manage it with them, why then would their neighbors have done it?