Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday urged Colombian rebels to lay down their weapons, unilaterally free dozens of hostages and end a decades-long armed struggle.
Chavez sent the uncharacteristic message to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), saying their 44-year effort to overthrow a succession of democratically elected Colombian governments is no longer justified.
“The guerrilla war is history,” Chavez said during his weekly TV and radio program. “At this moment in Latin America, an armed guerrilla movement is out of place.”
Such declarations were unexpected from Chavez, who has long been accused of giving the rebels refuge. A self-described socialist, he urged other countries to remove the FARC from terrorist lists earlier this year, suggesting the group is in fact a legitimate insurgency.
Colombia’s government claims that a laptop recovered from a FARC camp in March showed a history of deep collaboration between the rebels and Chavez — something the Venezuelan leader denies.
But addressing FARC’s new leader Alfonso Cano on Sunday, Chavez said: “I think the time has come for the FARC to free everyone they have in the mountains. It would be a great, humanitarian gesture, in exchange for nothing.”
FARC has said it would be willing to swap hostages for guerrillas held in Colombia and the US.
Carlos Lozano, who has mediated between the government and rebels, told Caracol radio on Sunday that he had re-established contact with the FARC in hope of facilitating the release of more hostages.
Lozano, editor of a communist newspaper, said that while he had not spoken directly with Cano, “everything is going the right way.”
Yet a FARC statement posted on Sunday on a Web site sympathetic to its cause suggested the group is far from laying down its arms.
Written by rebel leader Luciano Marin Arango, alias “Ivan Marquez,” and dated June 5, the statement demands that new elections be called to oust Colombia’s government and Congress.
The FARC’s “strategic objective is the taking of power for the people,” the statement said.
It also said that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has backed plans to kill Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”