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Colombia

Yearbook 2009

Colombia. In September, President Álvaro Uribe Vélez decided to dissolve the Security Police (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, DAS) and replace it with a new body. DAS has repeatedly been accused of illegal methods and cooperation with paramilitary groups, most recently in February 2009, when it was revealed that DAS was intercepting top politicians and then sold the information through auction. DAS has also been accused of planning to assassinate Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, and relations between the two countries have been frosty since March 2008.

2009 Colombia

According to countryaah, Colombia's plans to enter into a military cooperation agreement with the United States prompted Chávez to reevaluate relations with the country. The cooperation agreement concerns the United States' use of six military bases to help the government fight drug crime and terrorism. Chavez claimed that the agreement posed a threat to Venezuela's security and announced that the military would be reinforced along the border with Colombia. The matter was discussed at several UNASUR (South American Union) meetings during the second half of the year. Several heads of state were worried about the US's increased presence on the continent and the risk of armor, but President Uribe Vélez emphasized Colombia's right to decide for itself how its domestic policy problems should be resolved.

Another factor in the diplomatic crisis with Venezuela was the disclosure in July that security forces in a base captured by the guerrilla group FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) found Swedish-made weapons that were originally sold to Venezuela. President Chávez denied that his government should have supplied the FARC with weapons, but Jan-Erik Lövgren from the Inspection for Strategic Products and the Swedish Trade Minister's press secretary Jens Eriksson later confirmed that the weapons were sold to Venezuela in the 1980s. Chávez froze relations with Colombia, called his ambassador home and threatened to seize Colombian corporate assets in the country.

On September 1, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a referendum on the issue of a possible second re-election of a sitting president. President Uribe Vélez has expressed doubts about his own candidacy should such a constitutional amendment go through.

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