[Fwd: EL TIEMPO: Argentine president interviewed on intervention in Colombia]

Carrol Cox cbcox at SPAMilstu.edu
Sat Oct 2 11:34:29 MDT 1999

Could our argentine comrades comment on this.


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Date: Sat, 2 Oct 1999 12:23:17 -0500 (CDT)
From: Colombian Labor Monitor <xx738 at prairienet.org>
Subject: EL TIEMPO: Argentine president interviewed on intervention in Colombia
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        [NOTE: Excerpts from "exclusive" interview with
        Argentine President Carlos Menem by Clemencia
        Medina Vergara, in Buenos Aires.   -DG]

EL TIEMPO [Bogota]

Wednesday, 29 September 1999

                Argentine president interviewed
                  on intervention in Colombia

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- In an exclusive interview a few hours before
making a lightning visit to our country, Argentine President Carlos Menem
has stated that there is no plan for a military intervention in Colombia,
that he never has discussed such a possibility with President Bill
Clinton and that Argentina will never support such an idea without the
consent of the Colombian government.

Menem, the man who has ruled Argentina for the longest consecutive number
of days - a decade, surpassing even the record set by Juan Domingo Peron
- told this correspondent in his office in the Casa Rosada that his
government will not engage in a dialogue with the Colombian guerrillas,
but stands ready to provide all the assistance that Colombia demands to
achieve the success of its peace process.

[Medina] Does Argentina consider Colombia a threat to the region?

[Menem] I would not say Colombia is a threat to the region. I would say
that some sectors of the Colombian community who use force could pose a
threat to the Colombian democratic regime. This is a regime that we
intend to defend to the last consequences, to the extent that democracy,
liberty and respect for human rights are coerced in Colombia, but without
interfering in its domestic affairs. If some day Colombia says: "We need
such help from Argentina," you can rest assured we will be there. We love
Colombia, we know what the Colombian people signify for Latin America and
for the world and we are anxious to have the problem solved rapidly.

[Q] A representative of the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia]
(Javier Calderon) is currently touring Argentina. Is this visit taking
place with the consent of your government?

[A] These visits are a surprise up to a certain point and that really
bothers us. Argentina is a country that has already gone through a hard
experience on the matter.

[Q] Would your government receive this person as FARC representative in
the Southern Cone?

[A] I do not agree with expressing solidarity with the guerrillas.

[Q] Would you engage in a dialogue with ranking leaders of the Colombian
guerrillas as the Chavez government [in Venezuela] has done?

[A] No. There are different says of thinking. We cannot engage in a
dialogue with guerrillas and we will only engage in a dialogue with the
Colombian government.

[Q] Around the middle of the year, the Argentine press gave ample
coverage to a report saying the United States had consulted you about a
possible multinational military intervention in Colombia. Was that so?

[A] No. We never spoke with President Clinton about such a possibility,
nor did the president refer to that topic. That possibility, at least for
the moment, has been ruled out completely.

[Q] Would Argentina endorse a multinational military intervention in
Colombia? There is the belief in our country that you are in agreement
with this option.

[A] No. If Colombia does not accept it, we are not going to endorse a
solution of that kind.

[Q] Not even if the United States, its NATO partner, requests it?

[A] It has been totally ruled out. There have been many reports on the
issue, but that is the word of the president. I am very respectful of
Colombia's sovereignty, of the decisions that are made, and we will
accompany them if and when Colombia requests our company.

[Q] How do you think that your country could contribute to the Colombian
peace process?

[A] With whatever assistance Colombia requests.

[Q] Does President Pastrana's invitation respond in part to this?

[A] Of course we will talk about the topic when we get there. Colombia
does not deserve this situation of so many confrontations and so many
kidnappings. These are situations that are obviously undermining the
security of the people and of investors...

[Q] What is your opinion of President Hugo Chavez? Do you believe there
is the threat of an authoritarian regime in Venezuela?

[A] No. I have a very high opinion of President Chavez and he is doing
things well. I was the bridge so that President Chavez could meet with
President Bill Clinton. He is working well.

[Q] Do you agree with Pinochet being taken to trial in Spain?

[A] No, because that violates Chile's sovereignty.

[Q] Do you fear that the same could occur with the Argentine military?

[A] No. Judge Garzon requested the extradition of four military men and I
said no. These military men have already been tried, sentenced and
pardoned by Argentine justice. We cannot tolerate that, in addition to
having been colonized once, we would also have the fate of being
colonized in the field of law.  All countries, including Spain with its
king and prime minister, signed an act which does not admit the principle
of extraterritoriality and we severely condemn that judge for his
interference in Chile's internal affairs.

Argentina does not agree and, therefore, we will not attend the
Ibero-American summit - not because of Cuba or Spain - but because of
this judge who, without weighing the consequences, intends to pass
judgment on a Chilean citizen, when in reality those who have to judge
him - sooner or later - are the Chileans...

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