Thursday, March 27, 2008

It looks like the FARC got itself......

....depleted Uranium from Colombia or from someone else? Interpol is investigating. The case is still open but at least these days the OAS/OEA is doing and monitoring the investigation. It seems likely that they got it from Colombia or an arms dealer and were trying to strut their stuff, good thing is that they are in the jungle....

It is not quite Steve's biggest fear, and confirms many of the suspicions I have had about the case and real causes of the conflict have more to do with the Exxon case against Venezuela or at least as much as the hostility between the governments, as both are partners with the U.S. against terrorism: one on the pragmatic big-government left, one on the big-government right.

I am waiting to see what the OAS/OEA discovers with Interpol's help. (For Interpol it is more important then this case by far)

We can speculate now- could the depleted uranium have been in the form of bullets? Is it just a pretext of the Colombian government to try to save face and justify its claims? Was Hugo Chavez the boogey man people thought he was? Is the FARC trying to cause a war between the states for its own advantage? It is still unclear.

But what is clear is that there was no threat of a bomb or anything like it, so now all the states in the region are scrambling to save face.

It is interesting to watch this unfold, so let me share a bit of it with you.

The press in Latin America has not discovered much yet, Bloomberg has not discovered much yet, but both simply cast the bait back and is like a spicy love triangle on a Univision soap opera with the OAS/OEA acting as the good guys.

Chavez `Concerned' by Colombia Claims of FARC Ties (Update1)
By Matthew Walter

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he's ``concerned'' that the
Colombian government continues to publish accusations linking his government and the government of Ecuador with Colombia's biggest guerrilla group.

Chavez said he called Colombian President Alvaro Uribe yesterday to discuss why Colombia continues to publish accusations based on information in four laptop computers recovered from a guerrilla camp.

``This computer could say anything,'' Chavez said today during a visit to Brazil, in comments broadcast by state television. ``I expressed my concern that they keep doing these things, that they keep saying these things -- that Ecuador supports guerrillas, that Venezuela supports guerrillas.''

Chavez said making the data on the computers public amounts to a ``provocation.'' Earlier this month, he said that Colombia's attack on a camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in Ecuadorean territory might provoke a war.

The Venezuelan president said he's spoken with Uribe three times since the leaders agreed to resolve the conflict March 7, and that he's pleased with the message he's received from the Colombian leader.

``Beyond that, there are very powerful forces at work,'' Chavez said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Walter in Caracas at

Even the same paper is getting two stories, so ferreting out the truth is very difficult:

Colombia Probes FARC Ties to Uranium Seized in Bogota (Update1)
By Joshua Goodman

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Colombian authorities are investigating what the country's biggest guerrilla group planned to do with 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of depleted uranium seized in a raid on the outskirt of Bogota.

General Freddy Padilla, head of Colombia's armed forces, said in a news conference yesterday that authorities were led to the buried cache by informants linked to an arms dealer named on slain rebel leader Raul Reyes's computer. The find supports intelligence that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were trying to get uranium since 2005, Padilla said.

``It's exactly the same material listed on Reyes' computer,'' said Padilla. ``Why the FARC were so anxious to obtain this material we still don't know.''

The seizure of the uranium underscores the value of intelligence gleaned from a half-dozen laptop computers the military seized from the FARC this month and shows how the underground operations of the 44-year-old insurgency are crumbling. Colombia used data from Reyes's laptops, taken after a lethal cross-border raid into Ecuador, to implicate the governments of Venezuela and Ecuador in supporting the rebels.

Colombia's Vice President Francisco Santos said earlier this month that evidence on the laptops showed the FARC was seeking 50 kilograms of uranium to build dirty bombs, conventional explosives that spread radioactive materials.

The U.S., Canada and the European Union classify the FARC as a terrorist group.

Health Risk

The material found yesterday in a rural area outside the city poses no health risk and can't be used to build a dirty bomb, Charles Ferguson, a nuclear affairs analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. A video released by the military showed it had a slow radiation rate of 1.5 Microsieversts per hour, he said.

``You could stand next to this material for days and nothing would happen to you, unless you dropped it on your foot,'' said Ferguson.

Possible uses for the FARC might include making armor- piercing conventional weapons or an ingestible poison, Ferguson said. Less likely, the metal could be used as a shield while handling more potent radioactive materials that would be used to make a dirty bomb.

`Stronger Rocket'

``The FARC may have wanted this material to build a stronger rocket that destroys the president or a minister's armored car, not create a weapon of mass destruction,'' said Cesar Restrepo, from Bogota's Security and Democracy Foundation.

Padilla said informants he didn't identify, who are close to an apparent arms supplier Reyes called ``Belisario,'' led the military to the uranium. Authorities are investigating the origin of the material, he said.

Embossed on the two metal lodes, in English, was the warning ``Caution: Radioactive Material. Depleted Uranium,'' according to the military's video.

The computer files have already led authorities in Costa Rica on March 17 to uncover $480,000 in cash at a guerrilla safe house. Authorities said it also was useful in tracking down in Thailand suspected Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

``Reyes's computers are proving to be a gold mine, everything listed on it that President Hugo Chavez says are lies is proving true,'' said Restrepo. [meaning it is true that they are lies? Or true that Exxon mobile placed them on the computer, or true that Chavez was somehow complicit? It is never made clear in the English story but in the Spanish version, it makes it a little more clear that Chavez was not involved except to transfer money from one group of countries to free hostages the Farc was holding] It even was suggested here with Chavez joking that George Bush was likely to find he and Osama Bin Laden together on the Laptop and in Spanish- with a cut out head and a turban on.... because Chavez says, in the Latin papers, he is sure that someone is setting him up and as usual points at George Bush and the Empire.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has said evidence on Reyes's computers showing he funneled $300 million to the FARC was a fabrication.

``This computer could say anything,'' he said during a visit today to Brazil.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joshua Goodman in Bogota at

While the news from Brazil rejected Colombia's claim and in a statement today supported the OAS/ OEA declaration of the soverign rights of states and came out in support of Chavez who was called in some publications the "humorist" of Latin America.

Recife, Brasil, 27 Mar. ABN .- Con referencia a la reciente crisis suscitada entre Ecuador y Colombia, el presidente de la República Federativa de Brasil, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, afirmó que su país no acepta, bajo ninguna circunstancia, la intervención de la soberanía de un país por otro, y es la posición que ha expresado siempre.

Dijo que la posición expresada por su gobierno en la Reunión de Cancilleres de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) fue clara y representa su respaldo a la soberanía de Ecuador."La posición de Brasil fue clara en defensa de la soberanía de Ecuador en la OEA. Ahora, no aceptamos bajo ninguna hipótesis, que un país interfiera en la soberanía de otro. Punto y final, sentenció."

La aseveración la hizo este jueves durante una rueda de prensa que realizó junto al presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, en la ciudad de Recife, estado de Pernambuco, con motivo de la realización de una reunión bilateral para revisar los acuerdos de cooperación vigentes y la concreción de nuevos instrumentos.

Es importante mencionar que durante la visita del Primer Mandatario Nacional a la referida ciudad carioca, los Gobiernos de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela y la República Federativa del Brasil suscribieron ocho instrumentos de cooperación en las áreas de educación, agropecuaria, desarrollo productivo y seguridad alimentaria, a fin de ampliar las relaciones bilaterales y promover la integración regional.

The Libertario, and the Libertarian Parties of most parts of Latin America are questioning the premise of the conflict.... even as they provide excellent critical analysis of each individual government in the region. You can download the entire Libertario webzine at the link above if you can read Spanish.

Let's hope Interpol can solve this case, and let's hope they make sure they know where the information on that laptop came from.

Good thing for all of Latin America that OAS works much better than conflict.

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