[Marxism] Chavez Willing to Mediate in Colombian Conflict

Greg McDonald sabocat59 at mac.com
Fri Aug 10 05:26:15 MDT 2007

Chavez Reiterates Venezuela's Willingness to Mediate in Colombian  
By Chris Carlson
August 8, 2007

Mérida, August 8, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Rumors spread recently  
that Ingrid Betancourt, a hostage of the Colombian FARC guerrillas,  
will soon be released in Venezuela, but President Hugo Chavez says he  
is unaware of such plans. He reiterated his offer, though, to mediate  
in the conflict between the guerrilla army and the Colombian government.

Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian senator and candidate for the  
presidency, has been held captive by the Revolutionary Armed Forces  
of Colombia (FARC), since she was kidnapped in 2002 during her  
presidential campaign. Patricia Poleo, an anti-Chavez journalist  
based out of Miami, claims to have evidence that Betancourt is being  
held in Venezuela and will be released soon by the FARC in the state  
of Apure near the border with Colombia as a part of a deal between  
the French government and the FARC.

Poleo assures that the Venezuelan president is the "mediating  
negotiator" between the French government of Nicolas Sarkozy and the  
FARC. While French authorities have not denied this information,  
Colombia's Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo expressed doubts about  
Poleo's information and said his government is not aware of any plans  
to release the hostages.

On Sunday, during his TV and radio program Aló Presidente, Hugo  
Chavez reiterated a long-standing offer to mediate in the conflict  
between the FARC and the Colombian government and help them reach an  
agreement, including calling a conference among multiple nations.

The Colombian Senator Piedad Cordova was present at the Venezuelan  
president's TV program and asked Chavez to help in negotiating a deal  
between the two sides of the conflict. Chavez expressed his desire to  
help Colombia achieve peace, but also denounced a campaign against  
his government to accuse him of supporting the FARC.

"We have always said that in the case of Colombia we are willing to  
do what we can to achieve peace," he said in response to the request  
of Piedad Cordova. "We would like to help, Piedad, but of course that  
depends on the actors over there. What more can we do?"

"I commit to do what I can, although in Colombia they use these words  
to attack us. If I could make some kind of humanitarian agreement, I  
hope that I can," he said.

The Colombian foreign minister recognized the good will of the  
Venezuelan president and assured that he has always been willing to  
help Colombia.

"There is a permanent attitude of cooperation on the part of  
President Chavez and his government and that statement is along the  
same lines," said Minister Araujo, referring to Chavez' statements on  
Sunday. Chavez "has always declared himself a friend of Colombia and  
a friend of peace in Colombia," said the minister.

Upon arriving to Argentina earlier this week, journalists asked  
Chavez about the Betancourt case and what he knew about her release.  
Chavez said he did not know what they were referring to and showed  
surprise at their questions.

"I am trying to digest what you are asking me. I hope (Betancourt) is  
freed, but I am surprised by that question," said Chavez claiming to  
not be informed of the situation.

Betancourt is one of 45 hostages being held by the FARC, some from as  
many as 10 years ago, including three U.S. defense contractors held  
captive since their spy plane went down in the Colombian jungle more  
than 4 years ago. The FARC guerrillas hope to trade these hostages  
for the release of many guerrilla insurgents being held prisoner by  
the Colombian government, but it is unclear whether there is an  
agreement to release any in the near future.


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