CARACAS, Friday November 23, 2007 | Update
Chávez has no proof of life of Betancourt
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Sunday showed confidence that former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who is held hostage by the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), is still alive, but denied having any proof of life.
"I am sure Ingrid is alive, although I do not have any material, such as a video. But before leaving Caracas, I received a message from Marulanda (FARC leader), and he asked me to trust his word, and that is what I am going to tell French President Nicolas Sarkozy," Cháve said following the closing session of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Riyadh, DPA quoted.
Córdoba: Chávez is to inform on Betancourt's proof of life
Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba Monday told French TV station LCI she has "restrictions regarding their role" of conveying the proof of life of French-Colombian citizen Ingrid Betancourt, a hostage held the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), and she would rather let "President Hugo Chávez inform about this issue."
Córdoba's statements came during a phone interview with the TV station shortly after her arrival in Paris, AFP reported.
EU reiterates support for Chávez's mediation in Colombia
The European Ministers of Foreign Affairs Monday voiced their support to the talks between the Colombian government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) to attain a humanitarian agreement to swap hostages for rebels, and showed a particular interest in the mediation efforts conducted by President Hugo Chávez, AFP reported.
In a statement adopted during a meeting in Brussels, the 27 members of the European Union said the bloc "is closely watching the efforts of the Colombian government, particularly with the collaboration of the President of Venezuela, and supports the work of all the people committed to enforce the humanitarian international law in Colombia."
Colombian government-ELN to resume peace talks in Caracas
One of the leaders of the rebel National Liberation Army (ELN) Monday disclosed that the guerrillas group next December is resuming peace talks with the government of President Álvaro Uribe, AP reported.
The spokesman and member of the ELN leadership Antonio García added that the new round of talks was agreed thanks to the efforts Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made during recent meetings with ELN leaders and Colombian Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo to bring the parties closer.
Colombia sets a deadline for Chávez's mediation
Colombia on Monday established a deadline, until next December, to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's mediation efforts for the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) to release a number of hostages in exchange for the liberation of guerrilla troops who are in jail.
Colombian "President (Álvaro) Uribe told President Chávez that this process of mediation should have a time limit, and President Chávez agreed. Today, the government thinks the limit should be next December," the Colombian government said in a communiqué read by the High Commissioner for Peace Luis Carlos Restrepo, as quoted by Reuters.
Chávez, Sarkozy deal with humanitarian swap in Colombia
President Hugo Chávez arrived in the Élysée Palace for a luncheon with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he had promised to deliver a "proof of life" of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, who has been held hostage by the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).
Chávez -wearing a black suit, a white shirt and a red tie- entered the official residence of the French President at 1:05 p.m. (local time). He was accompanied by his Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolás Maduro and Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba. They declined talking to reporters.
Sarkozy welcomed Chávez and his entourage at the stairways of the Élysée Palace, AFP reported.
Colombia vindicates deadline on Chávez's mediation
The Colombian government Tuesday justified the deadline -next December 31- it set for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to complete his work as facilitator of a likely humanitarian swap of hostages held by the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) for guerrilla troops imprisoned.
President Álvaro Uribe's High Commissioner for Peace Luis Carlos Restrepo read a communiqué setting the deadline on Monday, after Chávez said in Paris -where he met on Tuesday with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy-, that they did not rule out a meeting between the heads of state and the top leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda Vélez.
Chávez asks Colombia to be patient
President Hugo Chávez Tuesday asked Colombia to be patient regarding his mediation efforts for the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) to release a group of 49 hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian citizen and former Colombian presidential candidate.
Chávez met Tuesday in Paris with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy and both addressed the issue of the hostages held by the guerrilla group, Reuters reported.
Missing proof of life limits Chávez's mediation
French President Nicolas Sarkozy branded as "essential" that the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) give a proof of life of the hostages they are holding, so that negotiations on a likely humanitarian swap can move forward.
His comments came during a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez in Paris, the Élysée Palace informed.
Senator Córdoba: Chávez-Marulanda could put an end to the deadlock
A meeting between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and the top leader of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces Manuel Marulanda "could remove all of the obstacles," blocking a humanitarian swap of hostages for rebels in Colombia, said Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba.
Córdoba -together with Chávez- is mediating between the Colombian government and the FARC for the release of some 45 hostages held by the FARC for guerrilla troops in jail. In an interview published Wednesday by communist newspaper "L'Humanité," she declared, "Unquestionably, there is hope."
Sarkozy believes Chávez can solve hostage issue
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is convinced that "if someone can contribute as solution" to the "acutely difficult" issue of the hostages held by the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), it is Venezuelan head of State Hugo Chávez, said the French president's diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte, as quoted by Efe.
The issue of the humanitarian swap was addressed by Sarkozy and Chávez during a working lunch in the Champs-Élysées, reported Levitte.
Colombia terminates Chávez's mediation
Colombia on Wednesday surprisingly moved to discontinue Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's mediation efforts to reach an agreement with Colombia's largest leftwing guerrilla group to release a number of hostages, including French-Colombian former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
"The President of the Republic (Álvaro Uribe) does hereby terminate Senator Piedad Córdoba's facilitation and President Hugo Chávez's mediation, whom he thanks for their help," the government of President Álvaro Uribe said in a communiqué, Reuters quoted.
The move came after Chávez -through Senator Córdoba- made a phone contact with the Colombian Army Commander General Mario Montoya, asking him questions about the hostages held by the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).
Sarkozy is asking Uribe to let Chávez to continue mediation efforts
France wants Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to continue playing his role as a mediator between the Colombian government and the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is forwarding a letter to his Colombian counterpart over the next few days.
Chávez has the support of France in this issue, Thursday said in a news conference the spokesman of the Élysée Palace David Martinon.
"We continue to believe that Chávez's efforts are the best choice for the release of the hostages," Martinon declared, branding the Chávez-Sarkozy meeting two days ago as "satisfactory," Efe quoted.
Uribe: Efforts for humanitarian swap cannot undermine fight against guerrilla groups
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Thursday said he would continue to seek a swap of hostages held by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) for FARC troops who are in jail, but without endangering the fight against the guerrilla group, one day after he terminated his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez's mediation in the process.
"Every possible effort to attain both peace and a humanitarian agreement should be made, but we must keep in mind that one cannot jeopardize democratic safety, which is ultimately what gives us peace and what is going to put an end to kidnappings, which have hit our country so badly," Uribe declared in Bogotá, as quoted by AFP.
Ingrid Betancourt's ex husband: Termination of Chávez's mediation is "dramatic"
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe's move to terminate his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez's mediation efforts to attain a humanitarian swap of hostages held by the rebel FARC for guerrilla fighters who are in jail is "dramatic," the former husband of Ingrid Betancourt -a French-Colombian politician held by the FARC- told a French radio station on Thursday.
"This causes more than consternation. This is dramatic," Fabrice Delloye told France Info. His ex wife has been held by the Marxist FARC since 2002.
Uribe's aide: End of mediation unlikely to be reversed
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe's decision to put an end to his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez's mediation in the negotiations for a humanitarian swap of hostages held by the rebel FARC for FARC troops in jail is unlikely to be cancelled, Thursday said an official Colombian source.
"In this connection, I felt the President (Uribe) was making a final decision, and I consider his move is highly appropriate," José Obdulio Gaviria, the top aide of the Colombian ruler, told radio Caracol.
Colombian Armed Forces respect Uribe's decision
The Colombian Armed Forces Thursday said they would keep doing "their regular efforts" to attain the release of all the people kidnapped by guerrilla groups, as the Colombian government late Wednesday decided to terminate Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's mediation for such purposes.
The Colombian Armed Forces' major concern is that all of the hostages held by the rebel Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) can "live in freedom," Thursday in Bogotá said acting Defense Minister General Freddy Padilla de León.
Senator Córdoba: Termination of Chávez's mediation should not ignite a war
Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba Thursday made a call to prevent Colombian President Álvaro Uribe's move to terminate President Chávez's mediation and her role as a facilitator in talks with the rebel FARC from fueling "a war."
"This needs to be addressed with a huge serenity, with calm, without making a war out of this. This is a very important and meaningful lesson," where she would continue to work, she told reporters upon leaving a hotel in Caracas in her way to meet with Chávez in the presidential palace of Miraflores.
"I am simply going to wait until I meet with President Chávez. He heard about the news only this morning too, I think. We are likely to make a statement," she added.
Venezuelan government regrets Uribe's decision to terminate Chávez mediation
President Hugo Chávez's government lamented the decision announced by the Colombian president Álvaro Uribe to terminate the Venezuelan president's mediation to reach an agreement with Colombian rebel group FARC on an exchange of hostages for guerrillas in jail.
The Venezuelan government expressed its regrets through an official communiqué made public on the web page of the Ministry of Communication and Information.
"We have been surprised by the decision of the Colombian government to put an end to the mediation efforts conducted by President Hugo Chávez and Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba to reach an agreement on a humanitarian swap," said the government in the communiqué.
Chávez still ready to find humanitarian agreement
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez asked Manuel Marulanda, the leader of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), to deliver to him the proofs of life of the hostages held by the rebel group, although the Colombian government terminated the Venezuelan ruler's mediation late Wednesday, AFP reported.
"Since the process has been kicked off, and there are certain things you cannot stop, I expect the FARC to send me the proofs of life. I am still waiting. Send me the proofs, Marulanda!" Chávez exclaimed during an act to promote his intended changes to the Constitution.
Chávez allegedly sought support from Colombian generals for military withdrawal
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was allegedly seeking support from Colombian military officers for a withdrawal of Colombian troops from a given area in order to negotiate a swap of hostages with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), and amidst such efforts the Venezuelan ruler made a phone call to the Colombian Army Commander General, which lead to President Álvaro Uribe putting an end to his mediation, Friday Colombian press reports claimed.
Daily newspaper El Tiempo quoted official sources close to Uribe's government claiming that Chávez talked to Uribe about the military withdrawal during a meeting in Santiago last November 9, on the sidelines of the 17th Ibero-American Summit. Uribe, however, disagreed with Chávez.
Washington demands FARC a proof of life, supports Uribe's decision
The United States demands the Colombia rebel group FARC evidence proving that their hostages are alive, and reiterated the US support to the efforts made by Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, following his decision to terminate Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's mediation to reach an agreement for a humanitarian swap.
"We believe that (FARC guerrillas) are responsible for wellbeing of all the hostages. The proof of life is an indispensable step in any reliable effort aimed at liberating the hostages," a spokesman of the US Department of State told AFP.
Betancourt's mother asks Uribe to reconsider his decision
Yolanda Pulecio, mother of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, Friday asked President Álvaro Uribe to reconsider his decision to terminate the mediation efforts aimed at achieving a humanitarian swap of hostages for rebel troops, while urging the Colombian guerrilla groups to be more considerate with the hostages' relatives.
She showed surprise at the decision of the Colombian government, and labeled Uribe's reaction as inconsistent, official news agency ABN reported.
"He wanted help to solve this situation, at least that is what he told mediators several times," she commented.
10:07 AM. DIPLOMACY. Admired by the Colombian guerrilla after his coup attempt in 1992, the then lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez Frías received financial support by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) for his projects after his capture that year. This mostly explains the relationship and "debt" between the parties, as revealed by a paper of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) of the United Kingdom.