cannabisnews.com: Colombia Rebels Want to Visit United States 





Colombia Rebels Want to Visit United States 
Posted by FoM on February 27, 2000 at 13:10:48 PT
Bogota
Source: Reuters
Colombian rebel commanders, back from a fact-finding tour in Europe, said in comments published Saturday that they were planning another trip through Latin America and hoped to go to the United States, where they are included on a list of "terrorist" organizations.Six senior members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) spent the last three weeks on a trip, sanctioned by President Andres Pastrana, through Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and France with a team of government delegates.
The group was ostensibly looking at examples of economic development that could be applied to Colombia in the framework of a peace deal to end the long-running war that has claimed more than 35,000 lives in just the last 10 years.The rebels also seized the chance to build diplomatic links abroad while government officials promoted the year-old peace process, whose success will rely partly on international funding for social development projects.On return Friday evening to a Switzerland-sized region of the southeast cleared of government security forces as a forum for peace talks, senior FARC commander Raul Reyes said the rebels hoped to visit Mexico, Chile, Canada and the United States in the near future, according to the leading El Tiempo newspaper.The United States has repeatedly called for the arrest and extradition of a handful of FARC commanders for attacks on Americans in Colombia, including the brutal kidnap-murders of three U.S. pro-Indian activists last March.In addition to listing it as a "terrorist" organization, Washington also accuses the FARC of wholesale links to drug trafficking.Congress is currently debating President Clinton's proposal to grant Colombia some $1.6 billion in mostly military aid over the next two years to crack down on drug production in FARC-controlled strongholds in southern Colombia.In a rare conciliatory move to the armed forces, Reyes told reporters that he did not believe the military had direct links to illegal ultra-right paramilitary gangs that frequently target suspected rebel sympathizers.In the past, the FARC has accused the paramilitary death squads of being part of a policy of "state terrorism.""The paramilitaries are responsible for the dirty operations the army carries out. But fortunately it's not the whole army," Reyes said in comments published in El Espectador newspaper.In an annual report Friday, the State Department criticized Colombia's poor record on human rights but recognized the Pastrana administration was making progress in curbing violations. Earlier this week, Washington-based Human Rights Watch said at least half the army's brigades were linked to widespread human rights abuses. H BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian rebel commanders, back from a fact-finding tour in Europe, said in comments published Saturday that they were planning another trip through Latin America and hoped to go to the United States, where they are included on a list of "terrorist" organizations.Six senior members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) spent the last three weeks on a trip, sanctioned by President Andres Pastrana, through Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and France with a team of government delegates.The group was ostensibly looking at examples of economic development that could be applied to Colombia in the framework of a peace deal to end the long-running war that has claimed more than 35,000 lives in just the last 10 years.The rebels also seized the chance to build diplomatic links abroad while government officials promoted the year-old peace process, whose success will rely partly on international funding for social development projects.On return Friday evening to a Switzerland-sized region of the southeast cleared of government security forces as a forum for peace talks, senior FARC commander Raul Reyes said the rebels hoped to visit Mexico, Chile, Canada and the United States in the near future, according to the leading El Tiempo newspaper.The United States has repeatedly called for the arrest and extradition of a handful of FARC commanders for attacks on Americans in Colombia, including the brutal kidnap-murders of three U.S. pro-Indian activists last March.In addition to listing it as a "terrorist" organization, Washington also accuses the FARC of wholesale links to drug trafficking.Congress is currently debating President Bill Clinton's proposal to grant Colombia some $1.6 billion in mostly military aid over the next two years to crack down on drug production in FARC-controlled strongholds in southern Colombia.In a rare conciliatory move to the armed forces, Reyes told reporters that he did not believe the military had direct links to illegal ultra-right paramilitary gangs that frequently target suspected rebel sympathisers.In the past, the FARC has accused the paramilitary death squads of being part of a policy of "state terrorism.""The paramilitaries are responsible for the dirty operations the army carries out. But fortunately it's not the whole army," Reyes said in comments published in El Espectador newspaper.In an annual report Friday, the U.S. State Department criticised Colombia's poor record on human rights but recognized the Pastrana administration was making progress in curbing violations. Earlier this week, Washington-based Human Rights Watch said at least half the army's brigades were linked to widespread human rights abuses.  BOGOTA (Reuters) Published: February 26, 2000Copyright  1995-2000 Excite Inc. Related Articles & Web Site:Human Rights Watchhttp://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/colombia/U.S. Drug Czar Visits Jungle Outpost http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread4851.shtmlRights Group Criticizes Colombian Army Ties http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread4844.shtmlFighting the New Drug Lords - Newsweek Internationalhttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread4738.shtml The Narco-Guerrilla Warhttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread2382.shtml
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