Posts Tagged ‘FARC’

Mugabe Cancels Visit to Ecuador Following Wiesenthal Center Protest

Buenos Aires, September 28, 2010

Zimbabwe’s dictator, Robert Mugabe cancelled a scheduled trip to Ecuador, where he was to receive a Doctorate Honoris Causa in Civil Law from Bishop Walter Crespo Guarderas, self-declared head of “the Anglican Province of Ecuador”. Mugabe’s host has been linked with former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga’s “Anglican Province of Zimbabwe”, and was charged, in 2001, with allegedly supplying arms to the FARC terrorist movement of Colombia.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center had expressed indignation at the planned visit to Quito, due to take place following the UN General Assembly in New York.

In a letter to Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, Dr. Shimon Samuels (Wiesenthal Center Director for International Relations) and Sergio Widder (Director for Latin America) had noted that “Mugabe’s dictatorship has, for over three decades, set a record in human rights violations… his troops’ massacre of over 20,000 Matabele, in 1983-84, has been denounced as genocide and documented by the African Union”, adding, “Mr. Minister, lead the way in declaring this tyrant persona non grata throughout the Americas”.

“Investigate Mugabe’s host, Reverend Walter Crespo, for reported links with Zimbabwe’s oppressive system and publicly condemn this honorary doctorate award initiative”, had urged Samuels.

“Mugabe’s presence in Ecuador would offend human rights victims and whitewash such abuses in Latin America”, had added Widder.

Following its protest, the Center received an official letter from Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry stating that Mugabe had cancelled his “private visit” to that country.

“We construe from this diplomatic response that the tyrant is not welcome in Ecuador and hope that this sets a precedent throughout Latin America”, concluded Samuels and Widder

For further information contact Shimon Samuels at +336 09770158, or Sergio Widder at +54911 4425-1306, join the Center on Facebook,, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament

Mugabe Cancels Visit to Ecuador Following Wiesenthal Center Protest | Simon Wiesenthal Center

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How Chávez tries to hide the truth about his government
Washington Post Editorial
Friday, August 13, 2010; A18

ONE OF the principal goals of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s foreign policy is preventing governments or international organizations from telling the truth about him. Over the past couple of years, captured documents and other evidence have established beyond any reasonable doubt that Mr. Chávez’s regime has provided haven and material support to the FARC movement in neighboring Colombia — a group that is known for massacres of civilians, hostage taking and drug trafficking, and that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and the European Union. That places Mr. Chávez in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and, at least in theory, exposes him to U.S. and international sanctions.
Luckily for Mr. Chávez, the Obama administration and other Security Council members have shown little interest in recognizing what, in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism, amounts to a smoking gun. But discussion and debate about the evidence — such as Colombia’s recent presentation to a meeting of the Organization of American States — makes this ostrich act difficult to continue. So Mr. Chávez has dedicated himself to bullying and intimidating those who dare to speak publicly about what everyone in the Western Hemisphere knows to be true.
His most conspicuous recent target was former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe, who ordered the report to the OAS shortly before leaving office. Mr. Chávez’s response to the maps, photographs, videos and other documentary evidence laid out by Colombia’s ambassador was to immediately break diplomatic relations and to threaten war. When Mr. Uribe’s successor, Juan Manuel Santos, signaled that he was ready to address the FARC problem through private discussions, the Venezuelan caudillo instantly reversed himself. On Tuesday he traveled to Colombia to meet Mr. Santos and agreed to restore relations.
Mr. Chávez also focused his attention on Larry Leon Palmer, the veteran diplomat nominated by the Obama administration as its next ambassador to Venezuela. Some Republicans question whether the United States should retain ambassadorial relations with Mr. Chávez’s government, and the nominee received a searching set of “questions for the record” from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s senior GOP member, Richard G. Lugar (Ind.).
To his credit and that of the State Department, Mr. Palmer answered truthfully. He said that he was “keenly aware of the clear ties between members of the Venezuelan government and Colombian guerrillas.” He said that he was “concerned” that two individuals designated as international drug traffickers by the Treasury Department “are high-ranking officials of the Venezuelan government.” He reported “growing Cuban-Venezuelan cooperation in the fields of intelligence services and the military” and “morale and equipment problems” in the Venezuelan army.
Mr. Chávez once again was quick to respond. On his weekly television show on Sunday, he announced that Mr. Palmer would not be allowed to take up his post in Caracas because “he has disqualified himself by breaking all the rules of diplomacy, by prejudging us.” He said that the Obama administration would have to “look for another candidate.” The State Department responded that it was sticking with Mr. Palmer. It should. If ignoring the facts about Mr. Chávez is a requirement for sending an ambassador to Caracas, then it would be better not to have one.

How Chávez tries to hide the truth about his government

Colombia, Venezuela Agree to Restore Diplomatic Relations After Dispute

(Corrects date of Bolivar’s death in sixth paragraph.)
Venezuela and Colombia agreed to restore diplomatic relations and vowed to step up security along their border to prevent Marxist guerrillas and drug traffickers from mounting attacks or using dense jungle for hideouts.
The two countries will form joint committees to work on any lingering issues, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said yesterday after meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez. The nations had been locked in a dispute over Colombian accusations that Venezuela was harboring rebels.
“We are starting this relationship from zero in a frank and sincere way,” Santos, who was inaugurated as president Aug. 7, told reporters in a joint news conference with Chavez in the town of Santa Marta. “The two countries will re-establish diplomatic relations and create a roadmap so that all aspects of relations can progress, advance and deepen.”
The agreement paves the way for a restoration in trade between the countries, which plummeted during the past two years amid accusations that Chavez was aiding the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in its campaign to disrupt the government. Chavez put troops on high alert along the 1,375-mile (2,200- kilometer) border July 30 after Santos’ predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, said as many as 1,500 rebels are launching cross-border attacks from Venezuela.
Chavez, speaking after Santos, said he doesn’t allow illegal groups to operate in Venezuela. He said he examined documents that Colombia said proved the existence of rebel camps in Venezuela and found that there were no outposts.
‘Always Doubts’
“There are always doubts, but President Santos has promised to believe me when I say that Venezuela’s government does not support Colombian guerrillas,” Chavez told reporters after the meeting at the estate where his 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar died in 1830. “If I supported the guerrillas the results would be quite notable — they would have weapons and money.”
Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin will travel to Caracas within two weeks to jumpstart relations, Chavez said.
Venezuela gave assurances that it will pay debts to exporters dating from July 2009 when Chavez first froze commerce, Santos said. Venezuela owes some $800 million to Colombian exporters, according to the Venezuela-Colombia Chamber for Economic Integration, a Caracas-based business group.
Trade between the nations tumbled to $651 million in the first five months of this year from $2.26 billion in the same period of 2008, the last year of normal relations, according to Colombia’s statistics agency. Colombia’s central bank, while acknowledging that the ongoing row cut into trade, says the impact is being offset by the global economic recovery.
‘Kick in the Pants’
“Santos knows he needs better diplomacy with Venezuela, he knows he can’t enter office kicking Chavez in the shins, he has to open talks and look super reasonable,” said Myles Frechette, U.S. ambassador to Colombia from 1994 to 1997. “He won’t be confrontational but he will give Chavez a good kick in the pants if need be.”
Venezuela’s economy will shrink 2.6 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“It would be convenient to reopen the border, but it’s not a matter of life or death for Colombia’s exporters,” said Rafael Mejia, president of the Colombian Agriculture Society. “The real issue is that Venezuela doesn’t pay.”
The yield on Colombia’s benchmark 11 percent bonds due 2020 has dropped to 7.2 from 7.96 since Santos’ election June 20. The peso has gained 4.7 percent over the same period, the most among major Latin American currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
Even if Chavez opens the border to trade, many exporters are wary of rushing back, said Jorge Bedoya, head of the National Federation of Colombian Poultry Farmers.
Trade Tensions
“It’s important that Chavez takes it seriously and abides by the rules,” said Bedoya, whose members lost as much as $60 million in trade to Venezuela before finding new markets locally and in Asia.
The collapse in commercial ties likely contributed to rising prices in Venezuela because of the costs of importing food and other items from longer distances, said Luis Alberto Rusian, president of the Venezuelan-Colombian Chamber for Economic Integration, or CAVECOL.
“Colombia’s natural market has always been Venezuela just as the natural market for Venezuela is Colombia,” Rusian said. “We also need to rebuild confidence between businesses and this is going to take some time.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Helen Murphy in Bogota at

Colombia, Venezuela Agree to Restore Diplomatic Relations After Dispute – Bloomberg

Mexico politics: New minister, same challenges – EIU ViewsWire


It ís one of the toughest jobs in Mexico’s government: the interior, or government, secretary is responsible for public security as well as domestic political strategy and relations with Congress. It is traditionally viewed to be the most powerful post after the presidency, and a springboard to the top job. Yet President Felipe CalderÛn has named his fourth interior minister in four years, suggesting that the job has proved overwhelming and that the presidentís support base within his own party is growing shaky, in an environment of escalating violence and difficult political challenges. This increases the risk that Mr CalderÛn will be able to accomplish little in what remains of his term.

Mr CalderÛn replaced his previous interior secretary (ìsecretario de gobernaciÛnî), Fernando GÛmez Mont, on July 14th with the relatively unknown JosÈ Francisco Blake, a senior official from the ruling Partido AcciÛn Nacional (PAN) in the government of Baja California state. Mr GÛmez had been named to the post in 2008, after the sudden death of Juan Camilo MouriÒo, one of Mr CalderÛnís closest allies. But Mr GÛmez became highly unpopular because of the ever-growing drug violence in the country, which has taken more than 26,000 lives since the president launched his anti-crime offensive in December 2006. Mr GÛmez also angered many Mexicans by downplaying the worsening drug war and its impact.

He also raised hackles for opposing the conservative PANís strategy of allying with the leftist Partido de la RevoluciÛn Democr·tica (PRD) in some races before the July 4th local and gubernatorial elections. That strategy proved effective in slowing the momentum of the leading opposition party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). Mr GÛmez quit the PAN earlier this year in protest at the deal making between the PAN and the PRD, and this seems to have triggered his downfall.

Unstoppable violence

Mr Blake is picking up the portfolio at a time when criminal violence is reaching new heights. This year Mexico is on track to post another record of drug-related deaths, and the incidents are growing bolder by the day. On July 18th gunmen attacked people at a birthday party in the city of TorreÛn, killing 17. This followed a car bomb days earlier in Cuidad Ju·rez that killed four, the first attack of this kind in Mexico. The surge in deaths this year is worrying not only Mexicans, but increasingly officials in Washington.

Mr Blake seems to have had some relevant experience in combating organised crime in Baja California, but whether he can boost confidence in his office and the drug war nationwide is questionable, as the tools he has to work with are weak. Consequently, few believe the violence will end anytime soon. It will be difficult to make significant progress in important areas that need addressing, such as overhauling the corrupt police force and making the weak judiciary more effective, during what remains of the administrationís term (through December 2012), although some reforms in these areas have advanced.

Structural reforms stalled

Although Mr Blake brings some experience in the security area, as an unknown politician on the national level he will be handicapped in fulfilling another crucial part of the job. As interior secretary he is the most important political figure in the cabinet, charged with leading negotiations with opposition parties to advance the governmentís legislative agenda. This, too, will be a tall order in the next two years. Some critics fear that Mr Blake is simply another close friend of the president, and will not be up to the task.

The CalderÛn administration was able to secure some fiscal, pension and other reforms, albeit watered-down ones, in the first half of his term. But its agenda has stalled since the PAN was weakened in mid-term congressional elections last year. On the list of priorities are additional fiscal changes to boost Mexicoís low tax take, liberalisation of labour laws and reforms to allow more private investment into the state-controlled oil industry.

The agenda is ambitious, and legislative progress will be even more difficult as the 2012 presidential elections approach. The PRIónow the dominant party in the lower house of Congressówill be loath to co-operate with the government as it positions itself to regain the presidency (which it lost in 2000 after 71 years of uninterrupted rule). Further tax adjustments probably have the best chance of passage, given Mexicoís fiscal needs, but changes to labour laws and the stateís monopoly control of the oil sector have dim prospects.

Economy minister replaced

In another cabinet shift that investors hope will result in more positive results, Mr CalderÛn named Bruno Ferrari, until now head of ProMÈxico, an investment promotion office set up at the start of the current governmentís term, to the post of economy secretary. He replaces Gerardo Ruiz Mateos, who returns to being a top presidential advisor. The change indicates that the administration recognises the need to improve Mexicoís reputation after last yearís dismal economic performance, when the economy contracted by more than 6%. Mr Ferrariís experience should help support Mexicoís economic recovery and bring investorsí focus back on to the fact that growth has resumed. However, Mr Ferrariís effectiveness in his new role remains to be seen, as ProMÈxico has not been terribly effective in combating Mexicoís deteriorating image abroad of late.

Yet financial markets seem to have applauded Mr Ferrariís appointment: in its wake Mexicoís bond prices rose for several days, suggesting confidence that he will be able to attract more foreign investment.

Nonetheless, better investor, and popular, confidence will require more than just a cabinet shuffle at the top. Indeed, the latest changes are probably more a sign of the administrationís weaknesses at this point in its term than of its strengths. Mr CalderÛnís authority is likely to be increasingly undermined not only by the PANís reduced clout in Congress and the growing boldness of the opposition PRI, but also by the growing popular misgivings about the effectiveness of his government’s military offensive against organised crime. Even with more than two years left to his term, he is looking ever more the lame duck.

The Economist Intelligence Unit

Source: ViewsWire

New president, old news…

Venezuela recalls ambassador to Colombia amid dispute

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 16, 2010 — Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)”

(CNN) — Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Colombia on Friday as it rejected Colombia’s assertion that Colombian rebels are living in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the administration of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is trying to undermine the possible normalization of relations between the two countries, which have had strained ties in recent years.

“After eight years of failed diplomacy and of militarism as the only regional policy, President Uribe leaves a country at war, a government isolated in Latin America and detached from its neighbors,” the statement said.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Venezuela was recalling its ambassador to Colombia for consultations.

Meanwhile, the Colombian government raised the prospect Friday of turning to international organizations. It said Colombia “has had a patient dialogue” for six years about its belief that Colombian “terrorists” were in Venezuela. It passed that information to Venezuelan authorities, the Colombian government said, but its overtures were “unsuccessful with relation to terrorist leaders.”

On Thursday, Colombian authorities said they have proof that high-ranking leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, live in Venezuela. The FARC is a Marxist rebel force that has been battling the Colombian state for decades.

Details of the evidence that Colombia may hold were not immediately clear.

Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva met with the members of the Colombian news media for about an hour and a half Thursday to discuss the matter.

After the meeting, Silva gave a brief statement to reporters reiterating that Colombia has coordinates and knows of apartments used in Venezuela by rebels with the FARC and another rebel group, the National Liberation Army, which is known by its Spanish acronym, ELN.

Colombian authorities are aware of meetings between rebels in Venezuela as recently as Thursday, and have evidence of rebel camps, Silva said.

“The continued and permanent tolerance of the presence of terrorists in that country is a threat to the security of Colombia,” he said.

On Friday, Venezuela criticized what it called the “pathetic media spectacle” in Colombia the day before.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Venezuelan authorities have investigated each time Colombia has asserted that FARC rebels were in Venezuela. It also said the Colombian president had made “irresponsible” assertions that Venezuela was helping FARC rebels.

Uribe is a two-term president who has high approval ratings for his tough stand against FARC.

Colombia has accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of supporting the rebels. Chavez has previously accused Colombian officials and right-wing paramilitary units of plotting his assassination.

Security analysts have said FARC guerrillas operate mostly in Colombia but have carried out extortion, kidnappings and other activities in Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador.

FARC is accused of trafficking in cocaine to finance its insurgency.

Colombia also has accused another neighbor, Ecuador, of giving refuge to rebels. In 2008, Colombia carried out a raid in Ecuadorian territory that resulted in the killing of a top FARC leader
Venezuela recalls ambassador to Colombia amid dispute –
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