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Colombia Says Rebel Documents Show Link to Venezuela

Colombia's government says documents recovered from the computer of a slain rebel leader show shows links between leftist rebels and the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez. Organization of American States will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday in Washington to discuss the developing crisis between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. VOA's Brian Wagner has this report from Miami.

Colombian officials said the evidence was recovered after a controversial military attack on a rebel base inside Ecuador, which killed 17 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Colombian officials say the information was contained on three computers and included letters from top FARC commander, Raul Reyes, who was killed in Saturday's attack.

National police chief Oscar Naranjo said the information shows Venezuela's government offered to supply rifles to the FARC and sent $300 million to the rebel group. Naranjo said that officials were studying whether the money could be part of a deal to release several hostages held by the FARC.

The police chief said the only thing he can confirm now is that President Hugo Chavez paid $300 million to the FARC in support of its terrorist activities.

Naranjo said the evidence was being forwarded to the Organization of American States to help verify the information. The regional group has called a meeting in Washington on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

The presidents of Ecuador and Venezuela have responded angrily to the military strike, and announced plans to send troops to the borders with Colombia.

In Bogota, presidential spokesman Cesar Mauricio Velasquez sought to ease tensions, saying Colombia had no plans to send troops to its borders. But he said the seized information raises questions about links between the FARC and the governments of Venezuela and Ecuador.

He said Colombia is concerned about possible agreements between the FARC and the governments of Ecuador and Venezuela which would violate their obligations against harboring terrorists.

Ecuador's government denied any links to FARC rebels.

Colombia has complained that FARC rebels often cross remote jungle borders into Ecuador and Venezuela to seek refuge from Colombian military attacks.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Washington backs Colombia's efforts to respond to the threat posed by FARC rebels, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. He said the dispute between Colombia and Ecuador about the attack should be addressed through dialogue.

"We think the way for any differences about this particular military action to be resolved is through dialogue among the two countries," said Tom Casey. "That is in everyone's interest, and it is certainly what we are encouraging the government of Colombia and the government of Ecuador to do"

Several Latin American leaders have appealed for calm in the situation, saying any conflict could hurt the region.

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