The director of Caritas in the Venezuelan state of Tachira recently denounced the presence of Colombian rebel groups in Venezuela.
Father Orlando Neira said the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Army of Liberation (ELN) are terrorist organizations involved the drug trade that sow panic among the people through kidnappings and extortion, while the government does nothing to stop them.
The presence of the rebel groups in Venezuela is unquestionable, he said, because he himself has spoken with them in his region of the country.
“Colombian guerrilla organizations kidnap and extort in this area. They thrive off of this and these kinds of kidnappings, which often last more than one year,” he told Caracol Radio.
Fr. Neira criticized the government for not ensuring the security of Venezuelans against the rebel groups. “It is sad that our government will not assume responsibility. They say there are no guerrillas, that they don’t come here, but what they say is one thing and what we see in the countryside, in reality, is another,” the priest said.
“The harassment from the ELN and the police in their country (Colombia) drives the rebels to leave their country and move somewhere else. It stands to reason they would come to their neighboring country of Venezuela,” he explained.
“The lack of presence of the Venezuelan military is sad, and they make us believe that the media is inventing all this, that our border is protected and that the guerrillas are not coming into our country,” Fr. Neira continued.
He also noted that rebel groups extort the rich and poor alike, and that farmers and ranchers are especially targeted.