Uribe Seeks Trial for Chavez in International Court
By Helen Murphy and Joshua Goodman
March 4 (Bloomberg) -- Colombian President Alvaro
Uribe said he'll seek criminal charges in an
international tribunal against Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez for his alleged support of guerrillas in
``I'll present charges to the International Criminal
Court against Hugo Chavez for financing and sponsoring
genocide,'' Uribe said on Caracol Radio today.
Colombia yesterday said it found evidence on the
laptop of slain rebel leader Raul Reyes showing
Venezuela had funneled at least $300 million to the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the
FARC. Human rights organizations accuse the group of
massacring civilians, using illegal land mines, and
committing terrorist bombings.
The laptop was seized March 1 when Colombia's military
crossed into Ecuador to kill Reyes, the FARC's
second-in- command. After years of international
support for its counter- insurgency, Colombia finds
itself diplomatically isolated in Latin America for
taking the fight a mile into Ecuadorean territory.
Uribe lashed out at his neighbors, seeking to regain
the moral upper hand by taking accusations against
Chavez to an international forum and revealing the
alleged contents of Reyes' computer to show Colombia
is the victim of aggression from across its border.
Crimes Against Humanity
The court, based in The Hague, tries individuals
accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and
genocide. Colombia and Venezuela signed the treaty
that set up the court in 2002.
General Oscar Naranjo, head of Colombia's police, told
Caracol Radio that documents from the laptop disclose
FARC had been offered the opportunity to buy as much
as 50 kilos of uranium at $2.5 million per kilo by an
unnamed arms dealer.
General Naranjo said the computer files also indicated
Ecuadorean Security Minister Gustavo Larrea had been
in contact with Reyes in a bid to get President Rafael
Correa involved in the release of rebel-held hostages
to boost his political standing.
Larrea said yesterday he'd been in touch with Reyes
only to try to negotiate the release of
French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, who has
been in the FARC's hands since 2002, and that he did
so with Uribe's knowledge.
The Colombian president has denied he had been told
about the meeting.
``Right now the government's focus is rightly on
revealing to the world the deplorable ties between the
FARC and the governments of Ecuador and Venezuela,''
said Alfredo Rangel, a former member of Colombia's
state Security Council and head of a Bogota research
group. ``Once the outrage over their border incursion
dies down, Chavez and Correa will get their turn to be
in the hot seat.''
Chavez and Correa denied the allegations and in turn
accused Uribe's government of acting on the orders of
the U.S. Ecuador and Venezuela both moved troops
toward the border in response to the raid.
During a visit to Peru today, Correa said Colombia
violated international law with the raid, and called
on Latin American nations to take ``concrete
Colombia, with bigger and better-trained forces, has
little to fear, at least militarily.
``This won't come to warfare for a very simple reason:
Chavez doesn't like to pick a losing battle,'' Rangel
said. ``Once the outrage over their border. ``For its
part, Colombia has no interest in opening a second
front'' in addition to its war against the rebels.
Colombia's military is the most battle-tested, best-
equipped and mobile force in the region, the result of
four decades of warfare against the FARC. It has
260,000 active troops, more than double the combined
strength of Venezuela and Ecuador's 115,000 fighters,
Colombia has spent about $38.6 billion on its military
in the past decade, according to Rangel's Fundacion de
Seguridad y Democracia research group. Since 2001, it
has received $600 million in annual U.S. military aid
President George W. Bush telephoned Uribe today to
applaud his efforts against the rebels. He urged the
U.S. Congress to approve a free trade agreement with
Colombia, saying it is vital to the South American
Venezuela has spent $4 billion building up its
military since 2004. It now has improved naval and air
strike capabilities. Ecuador's military last saw
action in a short- lived border dispute with Peru in
The criticism intensified as the Organization of
American States said its General Assembly would hold
an emergency session on the matter.
Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua and Peru condemned
the incursion, and Correa severed diplomatic ties with
All of those countries except Nicaragua previously had
declined to join Chavez's call to recognize the
guerrillas -- branded as hostage-taking, drug-dealing
terrorists by the U.S. and European Union -- as a
Correa began today a four-day tour of Latin America to
drum up support against Uribe.
``What you have here is sovereignty versus
transnational terrorism,'' said Ray Walser, a Latin
America policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation in
Washington. ``Sovereignty is sacrosanct in Latin
To contact the reporter on this story: Helen Murphy in
Bogota at Hmurphy1@...
; Joshua Goodman in
Bogota at Jgoodman19@...
Last Updated: March 4, 2008 18:22 EST