Tensions between Venezuela and Colombia have escalated once again. Colombian authorities believe the two FARC guerilla leaders are hiding in Venezuela and getting protection from Nicolas Maduro. Colombian President Ivan Duque says his counterpart, Maduro has turned Venezuela into a terrorist sanctuary.
This comes after president Maduro said two missing Colombian rebel commanders are welcome in Venezuela. This statement invited criticism as it meant that he is willing to provide shelter to armed rebels.
Maduro has labelled both rebel commanders, Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich, as leaders of peace. They both joined the FARC’s political party after the leftist rebel group demobilized under a 2016 peace deal that ended decades of civil war.
But Marquez went missing last year when his nephew was arrested and taken to the United States. And Colombia’s Supreme Court ordered Santrich’s arrest after he failed to appear for questioning about U.S. drug-trafficking charges too. Even though Duque suspects Venezuela to have been sheltering these rebels, Maduro’s government still denies protecting them.
“They had announced that Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich were coming, and I was left waiting. Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich are welcome in Venezuela and at the Sao Paulo Forum, the two of them are leaders of peace” said Maduro.
Colombian authorities continue to suspect Venezuela of protecting the armed groups by using a military intelligence report as proof. But Maduro continues to deny. Tensions between the neighboring countries have really worsened since Duque joined the United States and most Latin American countries in recognizing Juan Guaido, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, as the rightful leader, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.