Report: Colombian militia leader smuggled into Israel
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent - June 1, 2004
Carlos Castano, a right-wing militia leader in Colombia, was recently
smuggled into Israel, AFP reported. The militia leader disappeared
from Colombia on February 16 after the country's militias agreed to a
government demand to disband. Castano, 39, was first moved to Panama
under American guard and then sent to Israel, the according to the
French news agency's report. The Colombian government refused to
confirm or deny this report.
The right-wing militias in Colombia waged a long battle against the
left-wing underground organizations in the country, including ELN -
the group that kidnapped four Israeli backpackers last year.
Castano apparently left Colombia because he had become associated
with the United States' efforts to combat the country's illicit drug
business and his life was threatened. Another militia leader was
murdered several days ago after being suspected of similar
cooperation with the Americans.
Venezuelan president says `invasion' planned in Miami and Colombia
By Humberto Márquez
The Final Call
May 23, 2004
Venezuelan president says U.S. played key role in '02 coup attempt
CARACAS (IPS/GIN) - Venezuela "has been invaded. We are facing a
serious threat to the peace, integrity and security of this
republic," President Hugo Chavez said in a May 12 nationally
broadcast radio and TV address.
He was referring to an incident involving the recent capture of 86
alleged Colombian paramilitaries near Caracas.
The government says the men are paramilitary fighters, brought in
from northeastern Colombia by extremists in the anti-Chavez
opposition movement to form part of a force that was to attack
military installations, officials, and governing party and opposition
The aborted plan entailed an invasion that was "thought up, planned
and led by an international networktwo of whose hubs are Miami,
Florida and Colombiawith the complicity of unpatriotic Venezuelans,"
said Pres. Chavez.
"Traitorous officers in Venezuela's armed forces, both active and
retired, helped bring the terrorists from the border to Caracas," he
On May 9, authorities in Venezuela arrested 86 unarmed Colombians
wearing Venezuelan army uniforms in a country house on the outskirts
of the capital. Since then, 16 other Colombians have been detained;
properties of members of the business community and politicians with
links to the opposition have been searched; and the arrest of around
10 National Guard and Air Force officers, including four on active
duty, has been ordered.
Several opposition leaders, former defense ministers and media
personalities have stated that the case of the paramilitaries is "a
show mounted by Chavez" to draw attention away from the opposition's
attempt to hold a recall referendum for the president before August.
President Chavez called an extraordinary meeting of the Defense
Council, made up of the heads of the branches of government and the
top military commanders, and declared it in permanent session
Meanwhile, the verbal battles continued between Bogota, Caracas and
Washington, but with some room left for cooperation and diplomacy.
Colombian Ambassador to Venezuela Mariangel Holguin urged that the
case be dealt with through diplomatic channels, far from
the "microphones." "We must return somewhat to the route of
diplomatic and judicial dialogue, rather than so many statements in
the press," she said.
Ms. Holguín said the information received on the first 54 detainees
in Caracas confirms that they are Colombian citizens, that 28
completed military service in their country, and that only one has a
President Chavez insisted that the men are "dangerous" paramilitaries
involved in Colombia's civil war and said that he personally spoke
with one of the leaders of the group, who was arrested in
southwestern Venezuela as he attempted to flee.
"He is a cold man, a former professional soldier, and was apparently
responsible for the execution of several who tried to escape from the
With regards to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Pres. Chavez
said, "We have been pleased to hear that he criticizes this incident,
and we believe we can expect full collaboration from him."
But, he also said he had "elements" that led him "to doubt the good
faith" of Colombia's military intelligence apparatus, and accused
Colombian army chief Gen. Martin Carreno of being opposed to his
government and of "brazenly lying."
General Carreno denied allegations by Venezuelan Vice-President Jose
Vicente Rangel, who said the Colombian army chief had met in March
with members of the opposition who were plotting actions to
destabilize the Chavez administration.
Mr. Rangel, who handles relations with the United States and Colombia
in the Venezuelan government's division of labor, said
Washington "rejects the attempts to link the arrested Colombians with
our government. The paramilitaries, like the FARC [Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia] guerrillas, are international terrorists
that are financed by kidnapping and drug trafficking, and their
leaders are wanted in U.S. courts."
But, President Chavez said that before the Colombians were captured,
there was a build-up of statements hostile to his government from the
U.S. Defense and State departments.
"It is what we call, in military jargon, `preparation fire' to heat
up the climate ahead of an attack like the actions the paramilitaries
were going to attempt," said Pres. Chavez, a former paratroop
Venezuela evicts US military:
Gen Garcia asked the US military personnel to leave Fuerte Tiuna days
before Venezuela's security forces announced they captured
a large force of Colombian paramilitaries.
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