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Capture of Rodrigo Granda in Venezuela, 13 December 2004

The FARC found itself in late 2004 in the middle of a growing diplomatic crisis between Colombia and Venezuela. On 12 January 2005, Colombia's defense minister acknowledged that the Colombian government had paid bounty hunters to seize Rodrigo Granda, a member of the FARC, from neigboring Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela subsequently described the capture, which occured on the streets of Caracas, as a violation of his country's sovereignty and demanded an explanation.

The Colombian government refused to divulge any information pertaining to the capture. For weeks the government had claimed the capture had occured in the Colombian border city of Cucuta. Any details relating to who was involved in the operation and how much they were paid is still unknown. A Venezuelan lawmaker, Luis Tascon, claimed that the amount was $1.5 million-an amount the Colombian government later denied. Defense Minister Jorge Alberto Uribe has asserted that Colombian agents were not involved, while a close ally of President Alvaro Uribe has claimed that "Venezuelan agents" had carried out the operation.

Adding to the mystery was the detainment of four Colombian officers in Venezuela just days before the capture. The four officers were suspected of taking photographs of military installations in the central city of Maracay, but were later released without being charged.

In a 14 January 2005 communique, the Colombian government claimed "The United Nations prohibits member nations to provide safe haven to terrorists in an "active or passive" manner... Mr. Granda participated in a Bolivarian Congress held in Caracas on December 8 and 9 of 2004, in representation of the FARC."

Rodrigo Granda, a senior FARC member, was reportedly responsible for garnering international support for the FARC. This, in sum, could be described as the source of the current conflict between Colombia and Venezuela. Colombia has often complained about the lack of cooperation from the Chavez government in cracking down on leftist rebels.

On 16 January 2005, the Colombian government released this 9-point statement:

  • 1. The right of the people to be free of terrorists needs the efficient and resolute cooperation of all democratic governments.
  • 2. Colombia pays rewards to informants who allow the capture of terrorists. It does not bribe. Venezuela must present proof supporting the alleged bribe to government officials.
  • 3. We cannot be cynically deceived by the FARC which presents the capture of kidnappers like kidnapping.
  • 4. Colombia will present proof to the Venezuelan Government regarding the protection provided by officials of that country to Mr. Granda. The safe haven provided to terrorists violates the sovereignty of Colombia, an offended country, for it increases the risk of terror against its citizens.
  • 5. Colombia does not accept that representatives of terrorist organizations be admitted in a political event sponsored by official Venezuelan institutions. Political opposition is one thing, another very different one is terrorism.
  • 6. With surprise it is read in the Foreign Affairs Office in Venezuela communiqu, the intention of involving 4 Colombian police officers in the Granda case. The Venezuelan authorities timely new that it concerned another antinarcotics operation. They were investigated and released.
  • 7. Colombia has used the diplomatic and official channels. What is demanded is that such channels operate in an efficient manner. Once again, information will be delivered to that Government concerning the presence of Colombian terrorists on Venezuelan soil. The name of 7 high ranking terrorist leaders and the location of various camps will be included.
  • 8. The will of the Colombian Government to work in harmony with the Government of Venezuela is reiterated and according to the procedure defined by the Offices of Foreign Affairs.
  • 9. Terrorism cannot harm the unity of our nations.

As of 17 January 2005, the crisis between the two countries continued. President Hugo Chavez agreed to meet with President Alvaro Uribe in a bilateral meeting. By the end of January 2005 the diplomatic standoff between the two countries appeared to be improving. On January 28 representatives from Colombia and Venezuela met in Lima, Peru. Tensions with the countries reached even more serious levels, following a 2008 Colombian raid against the FARC in Ecuador, with President Hugo Chavez mobilizing military forces before a meeting with Alvaro Uribe appeared to defuse the situation. Major economic links between Colombia and Venezuela, as well as Colombia and Ecuador were said to be a factor in resolving the crisis.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:05:07 ZULU