AFP. 31 January 2002. Colombia to investigate alleged link between Venezuela military, FARC.
BOGOTA -- Colombia announced Thursday that it would look into reports of contacts between Colombia's main leftist rebel force, the FARC, and neighboring Venezuela's military. Foreign Minister Guillermo Fernandez de Soto said the government was investigating "time and place, as well as the context" of the alleged meetings as well as any "clarifications the Venezuelan government might make." A Venezuelan former defense and foreign minister charged Thursday that a video and documents revealed in Caracas media showed a "close link" between the Venezuelan government and Colombia's largest rebel force, the FARC. In remarks to Radio Caracol, Fernando Ochoa Antich -- a member a group of retired military staff opposed to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- charged the potentially damning video and document "show there is a close link between the current Venezuelan government and the FARC," the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. "From the domestic (Venezuelan) point of view, it also shows something sensitive which is that there is a serious split in the Armed Forces of Venezuela, because as the journalists have pointed out the video came from within the (Venezuelan) armed forces themselves," Ochoa Antic said. The controversial document -- published by the Chavez-critical daily El Universal Wednesday -- was signed by then interior and justice minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin on August 10, 1999. Dubbed "Borders Project," it said the Venezuelan government would provide medicines, oil and support for asylum and transit to a party identified by the daily as the FARC. In turn, according to the newspaper, the FARC -- Latin America's largest, oldest and longest-fighting rebel force, agreed among other things not to carry out illegal exercises inside Venezuelan territory and not to train Venezuelans without government permission. Hours later Wednesday, four opposition journalists released a video dated July 7, 2000 which purports to show a meeting of Venezuelan military officials with the commander of the FARC's 33rd Front, Ruben Zamora, saying it was clear proof of the populist Chavez government's ties to the FARC. In Caracas Thursday, local media reported that a man on a motorbike hurled a small bomb at the entrance of the newspaper "Asi es la noticia." Its director, Ibeyise Pacheco, was one of the four journalists who released the video. There were no injuries reported in the blast. Ochoa Antich was defense minister when Chavez led a failed military coup in February 1992. Later, Ochoa Antich served as his country's top diplomat during the second government of Carlos Andres Perez from 1989-1993. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barry Stoller http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews