Sunday, January 13, 2008
What difference does it make if Marxist rebels in Colombia responsible for an insurgency that has gone on for decades are called insurgents or terrorists? It means something to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the socialist leader who called President Bush "the devil" at the United Nations. Chavez said Saturday that there was no military solution to the long-running guerrilla war and that peace talks would never succeed if Colombia's government, and the United States and its allies, continued to label the rebels as terrorists, the Reuters international news service reported. "As long as the Colombian government keeps calling them terrorist groups that should be exterminated, what peace is possible?" Chavez said at a socialist party conference. Chavez, who won international praise this week for negotiating the release of two female politicians kidnapped by the rebels, wants to play a larger role in ending the conflict. But Colombia has refused to stop calling the insurgents "terrorists," blaming them for kidnappings, bombings of civilians, using children as soldiers and drug dealing. The largest group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC, still holds hundreds of hostages in remote camps. FARC is fighting for fairer wealth distribution in Colombia, Reuters said.