CARACAS, Tuesday January 25, 2005 | Update
The US government denied Tuesday any involvement in the capture
last month of the leader of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed
Forces Rodrigo Granda, as claimed by Venezuelan President
Hugo Chávez, Efe reported.
"These allegations are unfounded," said the US Department of State in a press release. "We have not played any role in the capture of Rodrigo Granda, the terrorist of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces."
President Chávez has never produced any evidence to back his charges of US involvement "because there is none," the press release added.
According to the Department of State, the Venezuelan government representatives who claim US involvement intend to "distract attention from the apparent permissiveness by the Caracas government on terrorist groups who use its territory with impunity."
The Department of State urged Caracas "to explain why did it allow for a FARC terrorist leader to move freely in its territory and even get a Venezuelan passport."
The US "support Colombia's efforts to confront terrorist groups and urge other countries to cooperate with President Álvaro Uribe's administration."
The capture last month of Rodrigo Granda unleashed a crisis in Venezuelan-Colombian relations.
Bogotá insists on saying that Granda was detained in the Colombian city of Cúcuta, whereas Venezuela states that he was kidnapped last December 13th in Caracas, and Venezuelan sovereignty was therefore violated.
02:57 PM. HEAVY RAINS. Venezuelan Executive Vice-President Elias Jaua reported that the government is designing plans to support farmers, cattlemen and peasants of the state of Mérida who have been hit by heavy rains that have caused crop losses.