lunes, 8 de octubre de 2012

Colombia's ex-leader said to be "obstructing" talks

The "foreign minister" of the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has said that the Colombian state decided to negotiate with the FARC after failing to defeat it, while a "minority" led by the former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez opposed peace talks backed by Colombians and the international community. Rodrigo Granda told La Tribune de Genève in Havana at an unspecified date that "the United States, the European Union, the Vatican" and sympathetic "personalities" in Colombia backed talks due to start informally in Oslo on 15 October, and "the only ones" who would obstruct them were "a small movement of the extreme Right" led by Uribe, El Mundo reported on 8 October. He said talks sought to "silence arms, but also and above all to refound our country." Government and FARC negotiators were to discuss themes including disarmament, rural reforms and the social reintegration of guerrillas. Granda said "all the themes are important and need to be treated calmly and negotiated scrupulously. They have to do with food sovereignty, health, education, the right to work...we have to reinvent Colombia, which is a very unjust country." He dissmissed the idea that the state was negotiating from a position of strength; "if the military could conquer us, the authorities would not have come to the negotiating table," he said. Uribe was president from 2002 to 2010 and weakened the FARC through relentless military action. He has denounced any negotiation with people he recently termed terrorists and drug traffickers. On 7 October he claimed the FARC had a "direct role" in Venezuela's recent presidential elections. Venezuela's socialist government has in the past been accused of aiding or sheltering the FARC; Uribe told Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe "I do not know how certain people can doubt that Venezuela is a sanctuary for the FARC." He said the FARC "controlled" an unspecified "mountainous zone" in the state of Zulia in western Venezuela. Twelve of as many as 30 FARC envoys and negotiators arrived on 8 October in Havana, where part of the talks would proceed, Europa Press reported. The FARC declared a day before that Interpol had suspended international arrest warrants for its negotiators, EFE reported.

Venezuela re-elects its president

Hugo Chávez was elected on 7 October to a fourth term as president of Venezuela, winning some 7,860,000 votes against just over 6,386,000 votes cast for the liberal Henrique Capriles, Europa Press reported. Chávez won 54.84 per percent of all votes counted by 8 October - which were 95.58 per cent of votes cast - the National Electoral Council (CNE) stated; he had already thanked Venezuelans through a message on the website Twitter, Reuters reported on 8 October. His rival conceded defeat and congratulated the president, but urged him to show "respect, consideration and recognition" for "almost half the country" that did not favour "this option keeping itself in power today," Reuters reported. Chávez was to govern Venezuela now until 2019.