Colombia-Venezuela: South America’s Most Preeminent Couple


By COHA Director Larry Birns

After a car bomb exploded in Bogotá on August 12, 2010, Colombia’s National Police Chief, General Cesar Pinzon, blamed leftist guerillas for being the authors of the blast. While this could be true, there is no definitive evidence at this time. Another possible theory, such as that the perpetrators are members of the right-winged paramilitaries, could provide a better explanation. Some believe that the paramilitaries would have used this terrorist device in order to derail newly-elected President Juan Manuel Santos’ peace-bid toward Venezuela. The act may also force Santos to back away from negotiations with the FARC guerrillas, talks which the paramilitaries do not want to see realized.

The unfolding détente between Venezuela and Colombia, a result of last Tuesday’s constructive meeting between Chávez and Santos at the Colombian port of Santa Maria, could have been the motivating factor for the terrorist act. A rapprochement between Venezuela and Colombia is essential for economic reasons. But blaming the FARC or the nation’s other leftist group, the ELN, for the car bombing appears to make very little sense, for such an act could not possibly serve the guerrilla’s cause.

Admittedly, the most likely cause of the explosion was that it was meant as a gesture against Caracol, Colombia’s main radio and television network, which is physically located close to where the bombing occurred. But this was not the only tempting structure in the neighborhood, as several EU banks line the same streets affected by the blast. The remaining question that needs to be asked is this: why would FARC commit an act resulting only in negative media attention? Whatever you say about FARC, they are not suicidal, nor do they act rashly. They would not likely choose this year to car bomb Colombia’s capital because, along with risking further admonition from Hugo Chávez, it would only fuel the negative press that they have increasingly faced.


COHA, or Council on Hemispheric Affairs, was founded in 1975, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), a nonprofit, tax-exempt independent research and information organization, was established to promote the common interests of the hemisphere, raise the visibility of regional affairs and increase the importance of the inter-American relationship, as well as encourage the formulation of rational and constructive U.S. policies towards Latin America.

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