(AFP) – Nov 25, 2007
BOGOTA (AFP) — Tensions between Colombia and Venezuela soared Sunday, with President Alvaro Uribe charging Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was seeking a Marxist FARC government in Bogota and the spread of leftist regimes across Latin America.
"Your words, your positions, suggest you are not interested in peace in Colombia, but rather in Colombia becoming the victim of a terrorist government of the FARC," Uribe said after Chavez announced he was "freezing" relations with Bogota.
Chavez earlier said he was putting bilateral ties in a "freezer," after Uribe dropped him and a dialogue facilitator, Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba, in negotiations toward the swap of leftist rebels for high-profile hostages guerrillas hold.
"We need a mediation with terrorists, and not people who try to lend legitimacy to terrorism," Uribe said referring to Chavez.
Chavez had said in Venezuela: "I declare to the world that I am putting relations with Colombia in the freezer. I do not believe in anyone in the Colombian government," Chavez said in a speech.
"They have spat brutally in our face when we worked heart and soul to try to get them on the road to peace," Chavez added.
In Bogota, Cordoba said Sunday she was being investigated by her country's Supreme Court for treason.
"They notified me yesterday; I am being investigated for treason and collusion," Cordoba told Radio Caracol from Caracas. She did not say if the charges against her were related to her work as mediator or to unrelated allegations.
Uribe had approved Chavez and Cordoba for their negotiator roles in August 31, following a phone call from Chavez to Colombian Army General Mario Montoya inquiring about the hostages.
Cordoba came under considerable fire in government circles for meeting secretly with rebel commanders Ivan Marquez and Rodrigo Granda, whom the FARC selected to negotiate the swap of 45 abductees for about 500 jailed guerrillas.
Uribe on Wednesday withdrew backing for Chavez and Cordoba to mediate FARC's offer to release 45 high-profile hostages -- including three Americans and French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt -- in exchange for the jailed rebels.
The conservative Colombian president said that he considered Chavez's role over, because the Venezuelan leader had ignored his demand not to speak directly with Colombian generals about the hostages.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked Uribe to "maintain a dialogue" with Chavez over the possible swap, his office said Thursday.
Sarkozy has taken a personal interest in the fate of Betancourt, a Colombian former presidential candidate who has a French passport by virtue of a marriage to a Frenchman.
She has been held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) since 2002.
The four-decades old FARC is Latin America's largest and longest-fighting insurgency.
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