US beefs up military presence in Colombia and threatens Venezuela
Date: Friday, October 15 @ 02:19:57 UTC
Topic: Venezuela

By Patrick J. O'Donoghue
Vheadline News - October 14, 2004

The US Congress has decided to increase the number of military and civilian assessors in Colombia. Personnel will be doubled and more threatening for Venezuela is the permission given to the State Department to detail any relation whatsoever between Colombian guerrillas and foreign governments.

Currently, there are 400 military and civilian personnel in Colombia working under a $3 billion funding ... by 2005-2006, the number of US personnel in Colombia will be 800 military and 600 civilians.

The US government has granted political asylum to paramilitary leader Carlos Castano's wife, Kenia Gomez on humanitarian grounds.

In other news, Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos has dismissed any alliance between the two principal guerrilla groups: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) against government forces.

Venezuelan political analyst, Alberto Garrido suggests that President Chavez Frias is calling the shots in as far as relations with guerrilla groups are concerned, especially the homespun Revolutionary Bolivarian Front (FBL) and urban guerrilla groups, such as Tupamaros ... the President has called on them to lay down their arms because the only armed group he accepts is Venezuela's Armed Force (FAN).

Attempts by Colombian media and politicos and USA sources to connect Chavez Frias to Colombian guerrillas have not worked, even though they crop up periodically and the President is expected to weather the next US onslaught.

In Colombia, Colombia guerrilla Jose Maria Ballestas has been sentenced to 40 year imprisonment. Ballestas was extradited three years from Venezuela to face charges of high jacking a plane. His arrest in Venezuela caused a stir and accusations that president Chavez Frias was harboring terrorists.

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