A U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks today, dated November 16, 2008, from then-U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, William B. Wood, reveals that former President Alvaro Uribe authorized “clandestine cross-border operations against the FARC in Venezuela, while trying to avoid a repeat of a crisis generated by the capture of FARC official Rodrigo Granda in Caracas in 2003.” Ambassador Wood’s cable contradicts official statements by Colombian officials that Mr. Granda was seized on Colombian territory and appears to support claims by Venezuela that Mr. Granda was captured in Caracas and then transferred to Colombia.
The cable also reveals Uribe’s strategy for dealing with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was based on efforts to “manage Chávez as opposed to confront him” for both economic and security reasons. This strategy included Uribe’s agreement to peace talks with ELN guerillas, facilitated by Mr. Chávez, because it was “better to have Chávez inside the process than outside causing problems.”
The release of the 2006 cables follows correspondence released in December 2010, in which Mr. Uribe told U.S. Admiral Mike Millen that he was “prepared to authorize Colombian forces to cross into Venezuela, arrest FARC leaders, and bring them to justice in Colombia.” The accounts contained in the cables also stand in contrast to current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ efforts to restore diplomatic ties with Venezuela last August, after over a year of tensions that included trade embargos and accusations that Chávez supports Colombia’s rebel groups in Venezuela.