Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Friday asked the international
community to stop classifying Colombia's rebels as terrorists, a
call rejected by the Colombian government.
Addressing the national legislative assembly, Chavez said
Colombia, Latin American and European countries should clear
Colombian rebel groups from their terrorist lists and grant them
After successfully negotiated the release of two female hostages
held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Chavez
argued for the groups' status, saying the FARC and the National
Liberation Army (ELN) "are not terrorist groups."
"They are real armies that hold a space in Colombia," he
It is necessary to continue working at different levels with the
Colombian government to withdraw the rebels from the terrorist
list, Chavez said.
Chavez said the FARC and ELN were put on the terrorist lists of
some countries because of pressure from Washington.
Chavez said he experienced intense emotions on Thursday during
the hostage release by the FARC, which chose to release former
legislator Consuelo Gonzalez and former vice-presidential candidate
Clara de Rojas to Venezuela.
Meanwhile, Colombia rejected Chavez's call, describing it as "a
totally unusual and disproportionate request."
"The (Colombian) government cannot accept this kind of request,
the condition (of terrorists) is not just a name, it is due to the
deeds they committed," said Colombia's Interior and Justice
Minister Carlos Holguin.
Holguin said FARC was included in the world's terrorist list for
the violent deeds they conducted and not for Colombian President
Alvaro Uribe's choice.
Some Colombian officials consider the request as an interference
in Colombia's internal affairs. "It is an interference in
(Colombia's) internal conflict... there is no way we can accept
it," said Colombia's former defense minister Martha Ramirez.
Colombia's opposition also turned down Chavez's call, but said
the two countries' relations will not be affected.
"We cannot allow these declarations to affect the good
historical relations between Colombia and Venezuela," said Rafael
Pardo from Colombia's opposition the Liberal Party.
(Xinhua News Agency January 12, 2008)