Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | December 31, 2010

Chavez and the ELN: Not Friends?

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and the ELN, Colombia’s National Liberation Army, apparently do not get along: Venezuelan authorities have handed over Nilson Terán Ferreira, nom de guerre “Tulio,” the second-in-command of the “northern war front” of the ELN, to Colombian authorities.

Chavez said, “In this I am very clear. We want peace in Colombia, we don’t want war, but we are also not going to allow any incursions of subversive Colombian elements, be it terrorists, be it drug traffickers, be it guerrillas. This is (Colombia’s) problem and hopefully they find a road to peace.”

(I wonder, is such a remark by Chavez meant to be followed by a row of exclamation marks?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

The arrest by Venezuelan authorities prompted President Santos to publicly thank President Chavez. According to Santos, Tulio was a “bandit who had 13 arrest warrants and was sentenced to 40 years in prison in June 2007” in Valledupar, for the kidnapping and homicide of a well-known cattle-rancher.

Santos highlighted on the presidential website, “this collaboration we are having (with the Venezuelan authorities) on all fronts, including how it’s demonstrated here, on the security front.”

Of course, this raises questions: Why does Chavez favor the FARC but not the ELN? Is Tulio’s hand-over simply for the cameras and for diplomatic handshakes … What went on behind-the-scenes?

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