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Tension in the Colombian-Venezuelan Border Region

Jeremy Le Page | 10.06.2003 06:08 | Venezuela | Globalisation | World

TORONTO ( -- The treacherous jungle that forms the border between Colombia and Venezuela is as dangerous as ever with the presence of guerilla warriors, drug traffickers and paramilitary units.

The situation is the result of a 40-year-old civil war in Colombia that often spills across the porous borders into the nation's neighboring countries. The conflict, which kills thousands of Colombians every year, pits together armed leftist guerillas, right-wing groups, drug traffickers, and an organized U.S. War on Drugs intervention program.

Recently, links between guerilla forces and the Venezuelan military have been reported by Colombian security agencies.

Members of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Liberation Forces (FBL) are currently undergoing military training at a center in the country's Zulia state, the South American nation's media says. Five camps have been installed, sources state, adding ties between the Venezuelan military and the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) have been strengthened.

A clash between the Colombian paramilitary and FARC is also said to have occurred in March, in which FARC was supported by several Venezuelan armored helicopters and airplanes. Although government opposition condemned the military action by Venezuela, the government said Colombia has failed to control its borders, and is allowing the nation's conflict to extend into Venezuela.

Reports suggest that the FARC 33rd Front camp has been relocated near the Lora River, just over two hours away from Rio de Oro, in the Venezuelan Zulia State. Sources suggest about 200 men from the Bolivarian forces participated in the clashes with the Colombian paramilitary. The Rio de Oro area is being used by rebel forces as a planning and rest area, suggests the report.

Media sources also indicate poor Venezuelan and Colombian refugees are welcoming the guerrillas, who have had a presence in the area for several years. Sources estimate about 300,000 Colombians have crossed into Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela in the last four years alone.

And assistance from human rights groups within Colombia has been limited. States Amnesty International: "Colombia's human rights community has long been a target of threats, violence, and murder. Between 1996 and 2001, there were 68 attacks on human rights defenders: 54 assassinations and 14 'disappearances.'" correspondent Jeremy Le Page drafted this report.

Jeremy Le Page
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  1. Lets Wake Up to this Situation Now. — Maddy