Venezuela, Colombia Sever Ties

The rocky relationship between South American neighbors Venezuela and Colombia has turned from bad to worse after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez slammed allegations that his country is providing a safe place to hide for Colombian rebels.

Chavez declared a breakup of diplomatic ties between Caracas and Bogota on Thursday as retaliation for what he called as baseless accusations that his administration was not doing anything to prevent the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, which has been waging a long-running insurgency against the Colombian government, from setting up hideouts in Venezuela. Chavez’s action came hours after Colombian Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos showed during a meeting of the Organization of American States photographs of purported FARC camps inside Venezuela. Hoyos, who claimed that around 1,500 FARC rebels are hiding in Venezuela, also challenged Chavez to allow an international team to visit the alleged rebel camps.

Chavez dismissed the photographs as fake and accused his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, of trying to instigate war. “Uribe is even capable of setting up a fake camp in one of the jungles on the Venezuelan side to attack it, bomb it and bring about a war between Colombia and Venezuela,” Chavez said of Uribe, who is set to end his term next month.