Tags: Startling | New | Links | Between | Chávez | and | FARC

Startling New Links Between Chávez and FARC Guerrilla Terrrorists

Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM

The leads indicate direct links between that terrorist organization and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

The defector, who had worked as a bodyguard for the Venezuelan President on his visits to Colombia, decided to abandon the FARC urban militia after already having infiltrated the presidential campaign of right-wing Colombian presidential candidate Álvaro Uribe Vélez as part of a FARC plan to assassinate the hardliner candidate.

Diego Fernando Serna Alzate, a key FARC operative in Bogotá, apparently turned in a list of high-level Venezuelan government officials who have repeatedly visited the FARC distension zone around San Vicente del Caguan. If true, this would be in addition to information given by the DAS that "ex-soldiers" from Venezuela are present in the FARC distension zone.

Diego Serna had infiltrated the campaign of Colombian presidential candidate Álvaro Uribe Vélez with the intention of perpetrating a FARC-coordinated assassination attempt on the candidate.

The candidate is considered a danger to the FARC due to his tough stance against terrorism and his opposition to the present peace process. One recent poll has shown him ahead of his rivals, including presumed front-runner, Liberal Party candidate Horacio Serpa.

Diego Serna had infiltrated the campaign as a volunteer, posing as a seminarian. Working together with a team of FARC militia operatives, the plan had been to fill a pair of Bibles with C4 explosives, and then place the Bibles into a briefcase that would have been left in the candidate's office.

The would-be assassin repented, however, and went to the Colombian police with the information about the assassination attempt and, as has now been revealed, also with additional information implicating Venezuela with the FARC guerrillas.

Four FARC militia members, including one primary school teacher, were rounded up by the police along with plans of Úribe's campaign headquarters. Diego Serna is currently under police protection as a witness in the local police's investigations.

The Venezuelan president has already arrived in Bogotá for an earlier planned visit to Colombia to discuss trade issues, the peace process and other issues of importance between the two neighbors. Venezuela's Minister of Defense José Vicente Rangel denounced a tape that was released yesterday, Sept. 24, by RCN Noticias.

The tape clearly showed Hugo Chávez together with Diego Serna, the FARC militia member, during a recent visit by the president to Colombia. The guerrilla and would-be assassin is handing the president a glass of water. Diego Serna has stated that he was a bodyguard for the president and had numerous contacts in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan minister commented that the tape was released at a convenient time preceding the Venezuelan president's visit and said angrily, "The impression that one has is that there is news that is mounted to look for a scandal with respect to this visit."

No one in the Venezuelan government made any other comments related to the CIA investigations of Diego Serna's reported allegations.

In recent days, the peace process with the FARC has been put into doubt.

An international meeting with so-called international friends of the peace process on Sept. 29 was canceled due to primarily European Union concerns that the peace talks, taking place in the current anti-terrorist international climate, were not appropriate for their participation.

In addition, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson has made clear that organizations such as the FARC will have their finances targeted as part of Bush's campaign against international terrorism.

High Peace Commissioner Camilo Gómez has insisted that the U.S. crusade against terrorists will not include the FARC, despite indications that the FARC is considered by the U.S. to be a terrorist organization of global reach. He stated on Sept. 23, "while in Colombia we maintain the ways of dialogue and negotiation. The international community supports us."

Meanwhile, the Commission of Notables, now made up of two Communists and one non-Communist, has finally pronounced its list of recommendations for peace in Colombia. As this writer wrote last week, among the conditions for a peace treaty with the FARC is the creation of a new Constitutional Assembly to rewrite the country's constitution.

It is unclear whether this proposal will go before the Congress, or whether the president will attempt to convene the assembly directly, which would ignite a storm of protest against his already unpopular government.

Following the visit of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Tuesday, Sept. 25, accusations from the president and his minister of defense continued to grow. Chávez rejected the allegation by Colombian authorities that Diego Serna was admitted as a part of his bodyguard contingent, and demanded that the Colombian government investigate why the FARC guerrilla member was present in the tape.

Minister of Defense José Vicente Rangel no longer continued to insinuate that the tape was doctored, given its length and the repeated appearances of Diego Serna at the side of the Venezuelan president, but he instead alleged that the guerrilla was a part of Colombian President Andrés Pastrana's entourage.

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The leads indicate direct links between that terrorist organization and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The defector, who had worked as a bodyguard for the Venezuelan President on his visits to Colombia, decided to abandon the FARC urban militia after already...
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2001-00-25
Tuesday, 25 September 2001 12:00 AM
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