CARACAS, Friday January 11, 2008 | Update
President Hugo Chávez Friday urged the governments in
Latin America to remove the rebel Colombian Revolutionary
Armed Forces (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN)
from the list of terrorist groups.
His request came during his speech to submit his annual government report to the Venezuelan Congress. In the first part of his speech, he assessed the operation conducted to pick up Clara Rojas and Consuelo González -two hostages the FARC released on Thursday.
"The FARC and ELN are not terrorist groups; they are armies, real armies that occupy a space in Colombia. We have to acknowledge the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces and the National Liberation Army. They are insurgent forces that have a Bolivarian and political project that is respected here."
Therefore, he asked Europe and other governments to remove the FARC and ELN from the terrorist list, adding that such a classification is the result "of the US pressure."
"They have me in a list too," he said.
"Mr. President of Colombia (Álvaro Uribe), I would like to resume dialogue," Chávez said. However, he claimed the condition to restart talks with Uribe was that the Colombian ruler recognized the FARC and the ELN "as insurgent groups, rather than terrorist groups."
02:57 PM. HEAVY RAINS. Venezuelan Executive Vice-President Elias Jaua reported that the government is designing plans to support farmers, cattlemen and peasants of the state of Mérida who have been hit by heavy rains that have caused crop losses.