Former FARC leader calls on Pope Francis to mediate Venezuela-Colombia crisis

Former FARC leader calls on Pope Francis to mediate Venezuela-Colombia crisis

Former FARC leader calls on Pope Francis to mediate Venezuela-Colombia crisis

Soldiers take part in a military exercise at the Garcia Hevia airport in La Fria in the State of Tachira, Venezuela, Tuesday, Sept 10, 2019. Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro launched extended military exercises along the border with Colombia, drawing Washington's attention amid rising friction between the South American neighbors. (Credit: Rafael Urdaneta Rojas/AP.)

On Thursday, a political leader of the former Colombian guerrilla movement known as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) called on Pope Francis to mediate between Venezuela and Colombia to avoid an armed conflict between the two countries.

On Thursday, a political leader of the former Colombian guerrilla movement known as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) called on Pope Francis to mediate between Venezuela and Colombia to avoid an armed conflict between the two countries.

Earlier this month, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced military exercises along the two countries’ border and warned against a Colombian attack.

Tensions between the two countries grew worse after elements of the FARC announced in a video that they were returning to armed conflict. Colombia authorities have said the video was probably filmed in Venezuela, and many have accused their rival of providing a safe haven for the Marxist rebels.

Senator Pablo Catatumbo warned that the escalation of rhetoric between the two countries puts the security and peace of the region at risk.

The senator is a former member of the guerrilla movement that signed a peace accord in 2017, putting an end to a six-decade civil war in Colombia.

In an address, Catatumbo called “these two governments to sanity” and said they should “go to a major moral and peaceful authority – such as the pope – to intervene and create a dialogue with the two sides.”

The aim of such mediation, he said, would be to avoid “the demon of war” from again “plunging his claws over these peoples.”

Catatumbo said that living in peace “cannot continue to be more difficult than waging a war.”

“I say this as a warrior who participated in the internal conflict for many years, and who today is sincerely disarmed for peace,” Catatumbo said.

The senator also repudiated the recent movement of troops to the border, calling it “an escalation of insane actions,” noting that any friction between the forces might “ignite a conflict that could end in a dangerous international war.”

He said both countries are at fault here, urging both sides to stop escalating the situation, adding that any armed conflict between Colombia and Venezuela would only benefit the arms industries of the United States and Russia.

RELATED: Colombia’s bishops condemn renewal of armed conflict by FARC rebels

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who claims to be the legitimate president of the country, has called on the Organization of American States to apply the provisions of the 1947 Rio Treaty – which created a hemisphere-wide mutual defense pact – against the Maduro regime.

On Sep. 11, the U.S. government invoked the treaty in response to the Venezuelan military maneuvers along the Colombian border and was considering “multilateral economic and political options” against the Maduro regime.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma


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