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Former Colombian Defence Minister Admits Sending Drones into Venezuela
Nov 16th 2012, by Ewan Robertson
[image: Ex Colombian Defence Minister Gabriel Silva (VTV)]
Ex Colombian Defence Minister Gabriel Silva (VTV)
M�rida, 16th November 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) Colombia sent spy planes
into Venezuela in 2009 and 2010 and publicly lied about the intelligence
activities at the time, a former Colombian defence minister has revealed.
In December 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused Colombia of
violating Venezuela�s sovereignty by sending drones into Venezuelan
�They [Colombia] are preparing an aggression,� Chavez had warned, while
also adding that �we do not have any plans against Colombia...the last
thing I would ever want in this life is a war with Colombia�.
At the time, then-Colombian defence minister Gabriel Silva denied Chavez�s
accusations, stating that, �Colombia does not have the capacities they
[Venezuelan officials] describe�. �Perhaps it was that the Venezuelan
soldiers confused Santa Claus�s sleigh with a spy plane,� he joked.
However, speaking on Colombia�s Caracol Radio this week, Gabriel Silva
admitted that Colombia had indeed been using drones to spy on Venezuela.
�At the time we were on the edge of war [with Venezuela] and we couldn�t
allow Colombia to be invaded by Venezuela without warning,� he claimed as a
motive for the operations.
In December 2009 relations between Colombia and Venezuela were fraught
after the presidency of Alvaro Uribe made an agreement in October 2009
allowing the United States access to seven of Colombia�s military bases.
Bilateral relations had also deteriorated after Colombia attacked a
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla camp in Ecuador in
March 2008 without Ecuador�s permission. The attack killed 25 people,
including Raul Reyes, a FARC leader.
In his interview Silva also revealed that Colombia�s spy operations in
Venezuela managed to locate the FARC�s second in command, Ivan Marquez
(alias Luciano Mar�n Arango), and leaders of ELN Colombian guerrilla force,
�very close� to the Colombian border.
An incursion by Colombian security forces into Venezuelan territory was
planned to �extricate� Marquez, according to Silva. However, authorisation
was blocked by Uribe on the consideration that �the political
climate�wasn�t the most favourable.�
These events took place in the final weeks of the Uribe administration, in
July 2010, when his government accused Venezuela of harbouring FARC and ELN
In response, Venezuelan President Chavez broke relations with Colombia.
Chavez had previously stated that while guerrillas sometimes penetrated
Venezuela�s difficult-to-patrol frontier with Colombia, this could not be
used as a pretext to attack Venezuela.
In August this year Uribe also referred to the July 2010 incident, and said
he had wanted to initiate a military operation in Venezuela but had �lacked
time� as his presidency ended.
Gabriel Silva said that it isn�t known what would have happened between
Colombia and Venezuela if the Colombian military operation to extricate
Marquez had been executed. Marquez is now one of the FARC�s negotiators in
peace talks with the Colombian government of Juan Manual Santos, which are
taking place in Cuba.
In response to Silva�s comments, which contradict Uribe�s account of the
July 2010 incident, Uribe has announced legal action against Silva.
Meanwhile Uribe renewed his criticism of his successor, President Santos,
accusing him of going from a former �champion� opposed to the Venezuelan
�dictatorship� to an �associate� of Chavez now.
Santos, who was also a defence minister under Uribe, has normalised and
strengthened diplomatic relations with the Chavez administration since
becoming president of Colombia.
*Source URL (retrieved on 16/11/2012 - 6:32pm):*
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