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Colombia: Evidence suggests Chavez gave FARC $300M

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/03/03/ecuador.colombia/index.html?iref=mpstoryview Colombia: Evidence suggests Chavez gave FARC $300M * Story Highlights
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2008
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      http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/03/03/ecuador.colombia/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

      Colombia: Evidence suggests Chavez gave FARC $300M

      * Story Highlights
      * NEW: Colombia: Evidence says Chavez paid FARC,
      received $100 million pesos
      * Colombian president reiterates "affection and
      respect" for Venezuela, Ecuador
      * Troops in Ecuador, Venezuela being sent to
      Colombian border after raid
      * Colombia says it won't send troops to its
      southwest, northeast borders

      (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. Video Watch what led to attack ยป

      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.
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      "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.
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