Andean spat cranks up a notch

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Andean spat cranks up a notch

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has cut diplomatic ties with Colombia in an escalating dispute between to the two Andean neighbours over Bogata’s charges that FARC rebels are operating out of Venezuela.

The president made the announcement while meeting with Argentina football manager Diego Maradona:

“ We Venezuela, from this moment, are breaking all contact with the Colombian government. Let’s hope that nothing serious happens in the last days President Uribe spends in government house.”

Colombia presented evidence it claimed proved that 1,500 FARC members were hiding in Venezuela at a meeting of the Organisation of American States.

Luis Alfonso Hoyos is the Colombian Ambassador to the OAS:

“ We want an international commission to be established and they can visit these places in the next 30-days. This cannot wait.”

It is the latest in a series of spats between the two countries, last July Colombia found Swedish made weapons during a raid on a FARC camp, weapons Sweden claimed it sold to Venezuela.

Another reason for the increased tension between Caracas and Bogata is Colombia’s decision to allow the US to increase its military presence in the region something that has enraged Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

Colombia, has already received some 3.5 billion euros in US military and anti-drug aid this decade while Chavez and his allies have been working towards reducing US influence in the hemisphere.