Brief: FARC in Venezuela? Depends on What You Mean

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In an interview with the radio station La FM in Colombia, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that leftist guerrillas operate in Venezuela but do not have camps in that country. This follows the president’s statement last week, published in Semana — “We are certain those encampents no longer exist” — which was met with strong criticism from loyalists to former President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe’s government had mounted an international campaign to criminalize Venzuela’s government of President Hugo Chavez by linking it to the FARC; the move caused the two countries to briefly break relations when Santos came into office. Santos has taken a decidedly more conciliatory stance. His statement last week had contradicted the previous government’s reports, including to the Organization of American States in July 2010, in which Uribe administration officials provided maps and detailed coordinates to bolster its argument that the major leaders of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) had set up large camps in Venezuela and the Venezuelan government was providing them with a sanctuary. Uribe himself tweeted in recent days: “Terrorist hideout: Where are FARC kingpins: ‘Ivan Marquez’, ‘Romaña’, ‘Grannobles’, ‘Timochenko’?,” in references to the FARC’s top leadership. In what is a sure sign of the tricky balance Santos may strike, the Colombian president has backtracked again, saying that he only meant that the encampents as structures per se had ceased to exist 

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