Questions over whether rebel groups are using areas of Venezuela as a haven for planning terrorist attacks in Colombia have roiled relations between the 2 nations for almost a decade. Evidence recently released by Colombia appears to support the charges, dragging bilateral relations to a new low and threatening the stability of the Andean region.
At a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States July 21, Colombia's ambassador to the OAS presented captured photographs, maps, videos and other materials to back up longstanding claims that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and National Liberation Army, or ELN, have bases in border areas of Venezuela. The ambassador, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, asked the Venezuelan government to dismantle the camps and go after the guerrillas. He also asked the OAS to form an international commission to verify Colombia's information.
This is important information, touching on an issue that has hung over the region for years. The United States believes it merits further investigation by an international body, and supports Colombia's request that the OAS act, and quickly.
Venezuela's response, however, has been disappointing. President Hugo Chavez's government summarily dismissed the photos and other materials as fakes and broke off relations with its neighbor, putting the Venezuelan military on alert as it did so.
This escalation of tensions may divert attention from the larger issues, but the charges are serious and they deserve to be investigated. Venezuela has clear responsibilities and commitments to cooperate, under both anti-terrorist treaties and resolutions of the OAS and United Nations. It is in its own interest to reduce terrorist threats in this hemisphere and anywhere in the world. Severing international ties and communications is hardly the proper way to achieve that end.