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Chavez tried to arm FARC, El Pais reports

Latest update : 2008-05-11

According to Spanish daily El Pais, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tried to arm Colombian rebels, with aid from Belarus. These allegations are based on documents found in a slain FARC leader's computer. (Story: J.Fanciulli, C.Bauer)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez allegedly tried to arm Colombian rebels with help from Belarus, the El Pais newspaper reported Saturday, citing documents from the computer of a slain rebel leader.
   
The Spanish daily quoted a February 8 e-mail from Ivan Marquez, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), saying Chavez had considered with Belarussian authorities the possibility of providing weapons to FARC.
   
The e-mail was alleged to have been found in the seized computer of FARC second-in-command Raul Reyes, who was killed in March, El Pais said.
   
The partially coded message mentioned someone identified only as "friend of Belarus," who El Pais identified as Victor Sheiman, secretary of the Belarus Security Council and a close associate of Alexander Lukashenko, the hardline president of the former Soviet republic.
   
El Pais added that other possible arms sources for FARC, particularly ground-to-air missiles, were mentioned in computer messages, including contacts with "Australian traffickers".
   
The left-of-centre newspaper reported last December that Venezuela had become a safe haven for FARC, harbouring several rebel camps on its territory.  Venezuela has denied this.
   
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that US intelligence officials believe that seized computer files showing strong ties between Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez and Colombian rebels are authentic.
   
The files describe meetings between guerrilla commanders and top Venezuelan officials including Chavez himself, the newspaper said, based on its review of more than 100 documents allegedly seized from Reyes' computer.
   
Venezuela insists the files, seized by Colombia after it bombed a rebel camp in Ecuador, killing Reyes, are fakes.
   
"We don't recognize the validity of any of these documents," Venezuelan ambassador to the United States Bernardo Alvarez told the Journal Wednesday. "They are false, and an attempt to discredit the Venezuelan government."
   

Date created : 2008-05-11

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