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.
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.