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Colombia, Venezuela trade barbs at OAS meeting

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Colombia vs. Venezuela
  • Colombia provided what it calls evidence of rebels in Venezuela
  • The Colombian ambassador said Venezuela has not acted on intelligence it has received
  • Venezuela rejected that the photos proved anything
  • Tensions between the two countries go back years

(CNN) -- Colombia laid out its case against Venezuela Thursday in front of the Organization of American States.

In a lengthy speech before an emergency meeting of the hemispheric body, Colombian Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos provided photos he said were evidence of rebel camps in Venezuela belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the National Liberation Army, or ELN.

At the end of Thursday's meetings, the member countries reached an agreement to cooperate on a unified front against drug trafficking and terrorism. However, the body did not come down in favor of one side or another in the latest spat between Colombia and Venezuela.

Stoking the flames in a long-simmering fire between the two countries, Colombia accused Venezuela of not acting on information that Colombian rebels were safeguarded in Venezuela. On Thursday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez responded by announcing that his country would sever diplomatic ties with Colombia.

Video: Diplomatic split

"Some activity from these last weeks show there is real danger that is materializing by that consolidated, active and growing presence of terrorist groups in the brother country of Venezuela," Hoyos said during Colombia's presentation.

He said that since 2000, there has been a 50 percent decrease in the number of murders in that country, and a 96 percent drop in kidnappings since President Alvaro Uribe took office eight years ago.

Hoyos showed photos of an alleged FARC attack on June 20 in the Colombian city of Arauquita, near the Venezuelan border. The rebels came across the border and attacked the Colombians from a base in Venezuela, Hoyos said.

In all, the FARC has 1,500 rebels in Venezuela, Hoyos said.

Many of the photos and intelligence came from rebel defectors, Hoyos said, adding that Venezuela has not acted on the information given to them by Colombian authorities.

"Of course Colombia is open to cooperation, but it has to be based on reality, not in rhetoric, insults or attacks," Hoyos said.

Colombia asked for an international commission to be formed that would visit the locations where Colombia alleges rebels are camped out, to confirm its findings.

"You want a solution? Here it is. Name one moral reason that should impede this -- none. To the contrary, it would be completely immoral, criminal and murderous to impede this from happening," Hoyos said.

Venezuela's ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, denied that any of the evidence presented by Colombia proved that rebels were in his country.

"They are very curious photos," Chaderton said, adding, "(taken) from I don't know where."

The terrain between Colombia and Venezuela looks very similar, he said. Some of the alleged photos showing a rebel leader at a beach appeared to have been taken in Colombia and not Venezuela, he said.

Despite Hoyos' statistics, Chaderton said that violence and drug trafficking continue in Colombia.

"The FARC, the ELN, and the paramilitaries are a Colombian phenomena and remain in Colombia because the president who most bragged about getting rid of them couldn't complete his promises," Chaderton said.

Colombia was stirring the conflict by pressing for the emergency meeting of the OAS while ignoring calls from third parties for more time for consultations, he said.

"This does harm to the Organization of American States," he said.