Sweden on Monday demanded an explanation of how anti-tank rockets sold to Venezuela were obtained by Colombia’s main rebel group.
Colombia said its military found the weapons in a captured rebel arms cache and that Sweden had recently confirmed they originally were sold to Venezuela’s military.
The confirmation strengthens Colombian allegations that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government has aided the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and exacerbated tensions between the neighboring nations over an imminent agreement to expand the US military’s use of Colombian air and naval bases.
The bazooka-like AT-4 single-use launchers, made by Saab Bofors Dynamics, lack the precision and range of surface-to-air weapons and there is no evidence FARC rebels have used any in combat.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe complained over the weekend that if Bogota had kept quiet about the weapons “they’ll fire them and obtain more and no one in the international community will halt their sale.”
Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami dismissed the report of the missiles, denying that “our government or institutions have ever collaborated with any type of criminal or terrorist organizations.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro called the launcher claim part of a “brutal campaign” with a single objective: “to justify the presence of US bases” in Colombia. He was referring to talks between Washington and Bogota on a bases accord.
Neither official offered information on whether the launchers might have once belonged to Venezuela’s arsenal.
Three launchers were recovered last October in a FARC arms cache belonging to a rebel commander known as “Jhon 40” and Colombia only recently asked Sweden to confirm whether they had been sold to Venezuela, a senior Colombian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
In Stockholm, a senior Swedish trade ministry official, Jens Eriksson, said his government was working with Colombia “to find out how this happened.”
“We have also contacted Venezuelan authorities,” he said. “We are still waiting for an answer.”
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a