Venezuela expresses concern over "imminent" restart of armed conflict in Colombia

Venezuela said on Friday it was worried about the "imminent reactivation" of the armed conflict in Colombia, where FARC guerrilla leaders who had demobilized announced Thursday they will return to the armed struggle

The Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza

The Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza. / Via REUTERS

Reuters | Vivian Sequera y Angus Berwick

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Leer en español: Venezuela preocupada por "inminente" reinicio del conflicto en Colombia

The oil country was one of the companions in the four-year peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), which signed an agreement in 2016 to end an internal conflict that has left 260,000 dead.

Venezuela "is in consultations with the rest of the accompanying countries and guarantors of the peace process to draw up immediate strategies that allow the reestablishment of contacts between the parties," said Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, reading a statement.

In the text, the government of President Nicolás Maduro described as "incredible" that the Colombian president, Iván Duque, accuses third countries and people of "his sole responsibility in the planned dismantling of the peace process."

In a tweet later, Maduro reported that he will seek mechanisms to bring the parties closer to Colombia.

"We will exhaust all the necessary efforts to generate the strategies for the reestablishment of the talks" between the government and the rebels, the Venezuelan president wrote in his account on Twitter.

In July, in an intervention at the Sao Paulo Forum, Maduro said that two former fugitives from the demobilized FARC guerrillas were "welcome to Venezuela", days after Colombia denounced that they would be hidden in the oil country.

The president referred to Seuxis Paucias Hernández, better known as Jesús Santrich, and Luciano Marín Arango, aka Iván Márquez, who participated in the peace negotiation between the government of former president Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC to end a conflict of more than half century that has left 260,000 dead.

Read also: Colombia: FARC deserters return to armed struggle

Arreaza made no direct mention of allegations made on Thursday by Duque, who said that the decision of some FARC chiefs did not mean the birth of a new guerrilla, but threats of "narcoterrorists" supported by Maduro's government.

Venezuela has denied that it houses guerrilla leaders, while the vice president of the ruling party, Diosdado Cabello, said Thursday that Caracas has nothing to do with the Colombian conflict.

For its part, the office of the president of the opposition National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, expressed a "strong repudiation" to the announcement of the FARC dissidents.

"The worrying announcement yesterday serves to reiterate that the usurpation of Nicolás Maduro is a threat to peace," the opposition leader's team said in a statement.

Tensions between neighboring countries have worsened since Duque, along with more than 50 countries, including the United States, recognized Guaidó as president in charge at the end of January.

The head of parliament invoked articles of the constitution to declare an interim presidency by ensuring that the re-election of Maduro in May 2018 was a fraud.

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