Arms sold to Venezuela found in FARC camp
Colombia's tenuous relations with Venezuela have worsened again with the revelation that Swedish-made rockets and launchers sold to the Venezuelan armed forces have been recovered in a Colombian rebel group's camp.A little surface to air "slippage" appears in the pipeline. While it is possible that Chavez did not authorize the sale of these weapons the likelihood is remote that the control freak would not be aware. When you add Chavez's opposition to US flights to stop drug transit it is easy to get the idea that Chavez is on the side of the narco terrorist.
Last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez canceled a summit with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and said he would "reassess" binational relations in light of Colombia's consent to host U.S. anti-drug aircraft at as many as four air bases.
Then, on Sunday, Uribe confirmed reports that his military had recovered powerful antitank rockets during a raid on a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, weapons cache in the Macarena National Park last year.
Without naming the suspected supplier, Uribe said the FARC had acquired them on the "international arms market" and that protests had been made with unnamed countries "through diplomatic channels."
Colombian Defense Ministry officials said Monday that the rockets were AT4 shoulder-fired antitank weapons made by Saab Bofors Dynamics with serial numbers indicating they were sold to Venezuela. Saab official Thomas Samuelsson confirmed to reporters that his company made the rockets and had sold them to Venezuela, which he said had "signed a final-destination agreement" forbidding re-export without notification.
The disclosure does not prove that the Chavez government sold or willingly gave them to rebels, said Jane's Americas analyst Anna Gilmour. Venezuelan arsenals, she said, are notorious for "seepage" by corrupt officers, who resell arms and munitions as contraband.
In a news conference Monday, Venezuelan Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami denied giving the weapons to the FARC or "any collaboration with criminal or terrorist organizations. . . . If anything, we have combated terrorism."
Still, the recovered weapons seem to resemble rockets described in e-mails allegedly retrieved from the laptop computers of Raul Reyes, the FARC commander killed by Colombian forces in a March 2008 raid in Ecuador.
As represented by the Colombian government, the e-mails show exchanges between Reyes and rebel emissaries in Venezuela allegedly trying to acquire arms, including rockets, from high-level Venezuelan officials.
An article this month in the Bogota daily newspaper El Tiempo said the FARC was negotiating with "Venezuelan contacts" to buy as many as 20 Russian Igla S-24 surface-to-air missile launchers.
Update: Chavez has responded with buffoonery:
...So when evidence is found that weapons he purchased are in the hands of narco terrorist, Chavez claims that is Colombian aggression? The man has no shame.
"In view of this new aggression by the government of Colombia I have ordered the withdrawal of our ambassador to Bogota," Chavez said on state television.
"We will freeze relations with Colombia," the leftist leader added.