[News] Chavez Reiterates Call on Colombian Rebels to Release All Hostages
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 11 13:09:46 EDT 2008
Chavez Reiterates Call on Colombian Rebels to Release All Hostages
June 10th 2008, by James Suggett - Venezuelanalysis.com
Mérida, June 10, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)--
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez called on the
new leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC), Alfonso Cano, to liberate all of
the insurgent groups hostages and advance toward
a peaceful end to the Colombian conflict in
coordination with other Latin American and European nations.
The hour has arrived for the FARC to liberate
all of those they have in the mountain, Chávez
declared on his weekly Sunday talk show Aló
Presidente, assuring that it would be a grand
gesture, in exchange for nothing.
Consistent with his declarations over the past
year, President Chávez reiterated that the
hostage release could be the first step toward
a peace process in Colombia, since the conditions
for peace are ripe in Latin America.
Chávez proposed that a broad coalition of
countries including Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua,
Ecuador, France, Spain, Portugal, along with the
Organization of American States (OAS) work
together with Colombia to guarantee that peace
accords are carried out between the Colombian
government and the guerrillas, two parties which
have been at war for more than four decades.
Here, I ask for the worlds help... enough of so
much war, the hour to sit down and talk of peace
has arrived, we call on the world to seek this path, Chávez said.
Moreover, the president expressed his opinion
that it must be said to the FARC that
subversive guerrilla groups are out of place in
the Latin America of today. Guerrilla warfare is history, he proclaimed.
Worse, insurgents such as the FARC serve as an
excuse for the United States Empire to
threaten all of us, Chávez insisted.
The president asserted that peace in Colombia
will take away the United States principal
excuse for its intervention and maintenance of
military bases in Latin America, specifically the
possible military base in Colombia.
Chávez said he had intended to discuss this with
the former FARC leader Manuel Sureshot
Marulanda, with whom he and Colombian opposition
Senator Piedad Córdoba had successfully
negotiated the liberation of six high-profile
FARC hostages in late 2007 and early this year.
However, the Venezuelan government lost contact
with the FARC in March after Colombian armed
forces attacked a FARC camp in Ecuador, setting
off a regional diplomatic crisis and killing the
FARCs chief negotiator of hostage releases, Raul Reyes.
Then, the FARC announced last month that
Marulanda, whose legal name was Pedro Marín, died
of a heart attack in March, and Cano was announced as the new leader.
Lets let all these people go, I want to say to
Cano! Chávez called out in his first ever public
statement to the new FARC commander Sunday.
Chavezs pronouncements drew praise from Colombia
and other Latin American governments, Venezuelan
NGOs, and groups in support of the liberation of
the FARCs highest-profile hostage, former French
presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos
said that with Chávezs declarations we can feel
calm and renew relations in good spirits for the
benefit of both peoples. He added that if this
is true and is converted into actions, it is very good news.
Peruvian President Alan García said the
announcements show that Chávez is not the fierce
devil that some paint him to be.
I congratulate him, I think he will be paid
attention to because he has a lot of influence,
he has been in some way close to the FARC, he has
defended them, García stated, referring to the
fact that Chávez last year had supported the
FARCs campaign to be classified as a belligerent
force rather than a terrorist group, as Colombia
and its ally the United States contend.
The president of Citizen Control, a Caracas-based
NGO, Rocío San Miguel, praised Chávezs move,
calling it a 180 degree turn in his policy and
claiming that the President had been pushed back
by pressure from civil society groups.
However, Chavez has on several previous
occasions, such as last January, made similar
calls on the FARC to unilaterally release all
hostages and to work towards a peace agreement.
Chávez has promoted the liberation of FARC
hostages and a peaceful, humanitarian solution to
the Colombian conflict since Colombian President
Álvaro Uribe invited him into negotiations of the
exchange of 39 hostages for 500 imprisoned rebels
last August. Chávez was abruptly cut off from
negotiations by Uribe last November, and the full exchange did not materialize.
Since diplomatic relations between Colombia and
Venezuela soured, the family of Ingrid Betancourt
and group who support the hostage´s release have
pleaded for Chávez to be allowed to return to the negotiating table.
Monday, the International Federation of Ingrid
Betancourt Committees (FICIB) in Paris praised
the Venezuelan presidents announcements, saying
it is especially important that this call has
been made by a person who we know has the respect of the guerilla leaders.
In a moment in which new hopes for a peaceful
solution have appeared, we ask that the Colombian
government and military not take any initiative
that could put the process in danger, the
organization urged in an official statement,
emphasizing that President Chávezs call is
headed in a good direction and brings new hopes
for all the families of those kidnapped.
The French government issued a similar statement,
calling them positive and that they would help
find a humanitarian solution that will allow the
release of the hostages, said a spokesperson for Frances Foreign Ministry.
Early last month, President Uribe authorized
Colombian Communist Party leader Carlos Lozano,
who also directs the weekly publication Voz, and
a Colombian ex-minister Álvaro Leyva, to make
direct contact with the FARC leader.
Lozano announced over the weekend that the
process is on a good path, and that although
they have not exchanged direct messages with
Cano, the channel of direct and trustworthy
communication with Cano is open, an achievement
made in team with the Spanish, French, and Swiss governments, Lozano affirmed.
Chávezs recent announcements are realist, and
transcendental according to Lozano, who has
advocated reactivating Chávez and Senator Córdobas mediation efforts.
also: Venezuela's Chavez: No Military Solution to
Conflict <http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/3070>(January 15, 2008)
Source URL: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/
Printed: June 11th 2008
License: Published under a Creative Commons
license (by-nc-nd). See creativecommons.org for more information.
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