Tags: Colombia | venezuela | drugs | concerns

Colombia-Venezuela War Talk Masks Drug Concerns

Wednesday, 18 November 2009 12:53 AM

For months, it has been clear that the border area presents a significant security threat for both Colombia and Venezuela.

Many of the drugs that come out of Colombia are taken to Venezuela by land or boat en route to Central America and Europe. The FARC and ELN have a presence on both sides of the border, as do drug gangs and paramilitary groups. Nevertheless, so far, government responses have been ineffective and, crucially, totally uncoordinated. As violence continues to escalate, each country accuses the other of harboring illegal groups.

Since Uribe came to power but especially since the U.S. base deal scandal, people throughout Latin America have come to associate the Colombian government with paramilitarism (just look at pop star Calle 13’s wardrobe choices for the MTV awards).

Similarly, at least in Colombia, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has long been suspected of offering a safe haven for FARC guerrillas and even of offering them financial and military support.

A cross-border war between Colombia and Venezuela is highly unlikely, but brutal drug wars are already being fought in the border region. The latest row has exposed an escalating conflict between illegal armed groups, but the politicization of security stands in the way of effective action.

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009 12:53 AM
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