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Colombia: Evidence suggests Chavez gave FARC $300M

(CNN) — Evidence found in computers seized in a raid over the weekend suggests that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently gave the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia $300 million, Colombia’s national police chief said Monday.

Speaking at a news conference, Gen. Oscar Naranjo also said evidence in the computers suggests FARC had given Chavez 100 million pesos when he was a jailed rebel leader.

FARC has fought to overthrow the Colombian government for 40 years.

Chavez had no immediate response to the allegations involving him.

Naranjo said other evidence in the computers suggests FARC purchased 50 kilograms of uranium this month.

Meanwhile, Colombia said Monday it won’t send troops to its southwest and northeast borders, where Venezuelan and Ecuadoran military forces were to be separately deployed after a Colombian raid into Ecuador. Watch what led to attack

The Saturday raid, which Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said violated his nation’s airspace, left two Colombian rebels dead.

Correa said he was disposed to go to the ultimate consequences in response to the raid, and Chavez said he firmly stands behind Ecuador.

Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe said his government reiterates its affection and respect for the neighboring countries, according to a statement on a government Web site.

Developments in the northern part of the continent have rapidly unfolded since Saturday, when the Colombian police and air force killed the FARC’s second-in-command, Luis Edgar Devia Silva, aka Raul Reyes. The Colombian government described it as the most significant blow yet to the rebels.

Colombia says its police and military attacked the targets after its forces came under fire from FARC rebels about a mile inside Ecuador.

Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos denied Colombia had violated Ecuadoran airspace, but Correa and Chavez assailed the raid as an infringement of Ecuador’s sovereignty.

Chavez ordered 10 battalions of troops to the Colombian border Sunday and closed Venezuela’s embassy in Bogota. He said Venezuela would have declared war on Colombia if its troops had attacked targets in Venezuela.

Chavez called the attack a cowardly murder and blamed the United States, a close ally of Colombia. He further called Uribe a criminal, liar and gangster.

We don’t want war, but we will not allow the North American empire — which is the master — and its sub-President Uribe and the Colombian oligarchy to divide, to weaken us, he said. We will not allow it.

In a televised address Sunday, Correa called the raid a massacre that killed numerous civilians.

Correa withdrew Ecuador’s ambassador to Colombia, expelled Colombia’s ambassador to Ecuador and ordered troops to the Colombian border. He said an apology alone from Colombia will not suffice.

We demand signed and formal promises made before the international community that will guarantee that these unacceptable actions will not be repeated, Correa said.

The attack killed Reyes and Guillermo Enrique Torres, aka Julian Conrado, a key ideologue.

Correa said Saturday that Uribe told him the incident occurred as Colombian troops were pursuing a FARC column. He later said his troops learned that Colombian planes struck the rebels as they slept in a camp about a mile inside Ecuador.

Colombian ground forces then crossed into Ecuador and retrieved Reyes’ body, leaving the others, he said.

We will not permit this outrage, he said. The situation is extremely grave, and the Ecuadoran government is disposed to go to the ultimate consequences.

Correa spoke Sunday with the presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Spain, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela to share with them the gravity of the situation, he said.

Venezuela is Colombia’s neighbor to the northeast, Ecuador to the southwest.

Correa and Chavez are two of several leftist presidents who have been elected in Latin America in recent years. Uribe is a rightist with close ties to the United States.

Chavez is an outspoken U.S. foe who relied on his leftist credentials to help secure the recent release of six FARC hostages. It is estimated the rebel group has about 750 hostages, many of whom have been held for years in harsh conditions in the South American jungle.

FARC justifies hostage-taking as a legitimate military tactic in a long-running civil war that includes right-wing paramilitaries, government forces and drug traffickers.

In Washington on Sunday, the White House said it was monitoring the situation.

This is an odd reaction by Venezuela to Colombia’s efforts against the FARC, a terrorist organization that continues to hold Colombians, Americans and others hostage, spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

The United States, the European Union and Colombia consider FARC a terrorist organization.
Colombia: Evidence suggests Chavez gave FARC $300M – found here.

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March 3, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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