Hugo Chavez & Oliver Stone Fly Into Colombia

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Hugo Chavez & Oliver Stone Fly Into Colombia

Postby judasdisney » Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:34 pm

Venezuela Sends Copters on Rescue in Colombia
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela sent two helicopters into Colombia on Friday on a delicate mission to pluck three hostages held by leftist rebels.

“The operation has begun. With these two helicopters goes great hope,” Mr. Chávez said as the two Russian-made MI-172 helicopters lifted off, bearing Red Cross insignia and Venezuelan flags. “We’re going to get those three people in the coming days.”

Wearing the red beret and fatigues of his paratrooper days, Mr. Chávez was accompanied by the American filmmaker Oliver Stone and a group of international observers at the Venezuelan airstrip.

Mr. Chavez called the mission “Operation Emmanuel,” after the captive child who is believed to be the son of a hostage named Clara Rojas and a guerrilla fighter.

Colombia’s United States-allied government agreed to allow the helicopters to land south of Bogotá and then take off Saturday morning to pick up a former Colombian congresswoman, Consuelo González; Ms. Rojas; and the boy, who is thought to be 3 years old. The women have been held captive for about six years.

“I’m hoping it works,” said Mr. Stone, a supporter of the socialist leader who said he was there to film a documentary about Latin America and North America.

“There are some good Americans. That’s why I’m here,” Mr. Stone added, after Mr. Chávez joked that he was an “emissary” from President Bush.

Mr. Chávez said that the former Argentine president, Néstor Kirchner, and other observers would follow the helicopters to Villavicencio, about 50 miles south of Bogotá, as soon as the Venezuelans received word from the guerrillas about where to pick up the hostages.

“Tomorrow begins the second phase, which is the rescue of our compatriots and our little compatriot Emmanuel,” Mr. Chávez said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is helping coordinate the transfer, and Colombia’s top peace negotiator, Luis Carlos Restrepo, said his government fully supported the mission and would keep its military operations from interfering.

For security reasons, Mr. Chávez said, the rebels have demanded that the Venezuelan pilots not be told where they will fly until they are airborne.

The secrecy reflects the mistrust on both sides in Colombia’s civil conflict. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has been fighting for more than four decades, and its guerrillas are dispersed in remote camps in the jungles and countryside.

Ms. Rojas, an aide to a former Colombian presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt, was kidnapped along with Ms. Betancourt, who remains in rebel custody. Ms. Rojas’s pending release has raised hopes for relatives of Ms. Betancourt and dozens of other high-profile hostages, including three Americans.

With FARC’s decision to release the hostages, Mr. Chávez has stepped back into the mediating role that ended abruptly last month when Colombia’s president, Álvaro Uribe, accused him of overstepping his mandate. Mr. Chávez hopes to broaden this role and take “a first step to open a door toward the path for Colombia to have peace soon.”

Because of aggressive American intelligence sharing backed by $600 million in annual military aid, Colombia’s security forces have pushed FARC into a strategic retreat. Members can no longer congregate in large numbers without being detected, and tend to use human couriers rather than cellphones or other technology that would reveal their positions.

While turning over the hostages, FARC will try to give away as little information as possible about its whereabouts, said Alfredo Rangel, director of the Security and Democracy Foundation, a Bogotá policy group.

The guerrillas “above all are going to make sure to prevent this operation — or information that could be deduced about them — from being used militarily by the government,” said Mr. Rangel, who predicted that the captives would be turned over far from the camps where they were held.
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Postby judasdisney » Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:43 am

Stone joins hostage-release mission
AP, by Toby Muse, Sun Dec 30, 2:48 PM ET

With its fearsome record of kidnapping and violence, Colombia's largest guerrilla army might seem a nightmare group to encounter. But not to Oliver Stone. The American filmmaker is jumping at a chance to meet with a group the U.S. classifies as a terrorist organization.

Leaving the glamor of Hollywood far behind, Stone arrived in the steamy Colombian city of Villavicencio on Saturday as part of a mission led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to retrieve three hostages held for years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

"I have no illusions about the FARC, but it looks like they are a peasant army fighting for a decent living," Stone said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press at his hotel bar. "And here, if you fight, you fight to win."

Stone is part of an international delegation expected to fly by helicopter as early as Sunday into the country's eastern jungles, an area the size of France, to collect the captives: former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez, Clara Rojas and her young son Emmanuel, who was fathered by one of her guerrilla captors.

When asked if he's concerned the heavily armed guerrillas could turn on him, he joked: "Well, if they took us, they would be swapping three hostages for 10," referring to himself and observers from five Latin America countries, France and Switzerland, along to supervise the release. "If I were them, that would make sense.

"But seriously, no, I'm not worried. The FARC knows there would be universal condemnation if they did that," said Stone, whose arrival has ramped up the media circus that already surrounds the pending handover.

More than 150 journalists have camped out in Villavicencio's airport since Thursday, waiting for the rescue operation to begin.

The mission seemed unlikely to be completed Sunday as originally promised by Venezuela, as rescuers were still awaiting word from the rebels on the exact location of the release. Meanwhile a rocket narrowly missed an air force cargo plane as it was landing in southern Colombia, underscoring the difficulties involved in crossing live battle lines.

The famous director's presence in this violent country, struggling through its fifth decade of civil conflict, is a worry to his Colombian and Venezuelan guides. They prohibited him from leaving his hotel in Villavicencio, a town rocked in recent years by turf battles between rival drug traffickers and far-right death squads.

Chavez personally invited Stone to join the rescue delegation after the pair, who say they are mutual admirers, met for the first time earlier this week in Caracas.

Dispatching rescue helicopters from Venezuela on Friday, Chavez joked that Stone was President Bush's emissary to the operation, while Stone called Chavez "a great man."

The hostage release could improve prospects for hundreds of other rebel-held captives, Stone said, including three U.S. defense contractors whose four-year confinement he said he has closely followed.

"This release could be a new start, a break in the ice — and the release has been well-propelled forward by Chavez," said Stone. "The important thing is that we build momentum so everyone can be released."

The mission also gives Stone a chance to get the lay of Colombia's political landscape for two upcoming movies.

Footage from the liberation will form part of a documentary on "North America, and that includes our relations with South America and people like Chavez and Castro," he said, without giving details.

He is also producing of one of two rival Hollywood biopics about Pablo Escobar, history's most infamous cocaine trafficker, who was gunned down in 1993 after a bloody war against the Colombian state.

The movie, which Stone hopes to film in Colombia, is based loosely on a book by Escobar's brother, Roberto.

"Escobar is still very controversial. Many people hate him but many people love him," said Stone, who first rendered the drug-smuggling underworld as a screenwriter for "Midnight Express" and "Scarface." "To some, he was this Robin Hood figure, giving money to the poor."
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Postby judasdisney » Tue Jan 01, 2008 2:02 am

Hostage rescue in Colombia collapses
By TOBY MUSE, Associated Press Writer, 2 hours, 19 minutes ago

A Venezuelan-led mission to rescue three hostages, including a 3-year old boy, from leftist rebels in Colombia's jungles fell apart Monday as the guerrillas accused Colombia's military of sabotaging the promised handoff.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe dismissed the claim as a lie by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, instead suggesting the guerrillas could be backing out of the deal brokered by President Hugo Chavez because they don't have the boy hostage.

"The FARC terrorist group doesn't have any excuse. They've fooled Colombia and now they want to fool the international community," Uribe said from the central Colombian city where Venezuela helicopters have been waiting since Friday for word from the guerrillas on where the hostages could be picked up.

Uribe made the shocking suggestion that the guerrillas "don't dare to keep their promises because they don't have the boy, Emmanuel" — who the FARC announced two weeks ago they would free along with his mother, Clara Rojas, and former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez.

Uribe said his government had given Venezuela and the international Red Cross coordinating the mission every guarantee that its military would not obstruct the handover, even promising to create a cease-fire corridor to allow the rebels to escort their hostages through the France-sized jungles to the pickup point.

Former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and observers from France, Switzerland and four leftist Latin American governments abandoned Villavicencio on Monday, saying only in a terse statement they would "continue their mission" once all conditions for the hostages' release were met.

"Shame on Colombia, shame on Uribe," Oliver Stone, the American filmmaker, told The Associated Press shortly before boarding one of three Venezuelan jets carrying the observers back to Caracas. Stone, who was invited by Chavez to document the handover, added "the FARC have no motive not to release these hostages."

Uribe said a 3-year old child named Juan David Gomez, matching the description of Emmanuel provided by escaped hostages and suffering from malnutrition, malaria and jungle-born leishmaniasis, may have been living for the past two and a half years with at a foster home in Bogota.

The child was turned over in the eastern city of San Jose del Guaviare, a FARC stronghold, in 2005 by a man who said he was the boy's great uncle and who now claims to be his father. The boy's mother was reported as disappeared, according to the child welfare agency case file read to journalists by peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo.

The Colombian leader said only DNA tests were required to prove or disprove "this hypothesis" — which he said could be done as soon as the boy's grandmother returns from Caracas, where she was awaiting the handover of her daughter and grandson.

The international Red Cross confirmed Uribe's claim that his government informed the humanitarian organization of the child's existence two days ago.

"We were asked to keep this confidential and for the protection of the child, we respected the government's request," said Red Cross spokesman Yves Heller.

Chavez welcomed the hostages' relatives to the presidential palace on New Year's Eve.

"Nothing has finished," he told reporters. "We always said it was a process with many risks. ... The operation hasn't been stopped."

Chavez said he hasn't eliminated the possibility the guerrillas will still give the coordinates to pick up the hostages. "We have a channel open with the FARC," he said.

If Uribe happens to be right about the boy, "the FARC will have to explain to the world," Chavez said.

Chavez said Uribe's offer of a demilitarized "corridor" doesn't make sense because it's unclear exactly where it was stretch between.

"Uribe is lying," Chavez said, accusing him of "going today to Villavicencio to place a bomb" on the operation.

Speaking earlier on state television, Chavez said the rebels wrote in a letter that "the military operational attempts in the zone impede us for now from turning over" the three hostages.

The FARC letter said "insisting on (a handover) in these conditions would be putting at risk" the lives of hostages and guerrillas.

The FARC are holding 44 high-profile hostages — including three American defense contractors and former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

The U.S.-allied Uribe has used some $600 million in annual military and intelligence aid from Washington to push the half-century-old insurgency deeper into the jungle.
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Postby MinM » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:57 pm

Oliver Stone: 'The truth about Hugo Chávez' | Film |
Image ... ugo-chavez


judasdisney wrote:Now it's really going to require a U.S. administration from the Democratic Party to tastefully shepherd the assassination. :: View topic - Venezuela pays off IMF and World Bank
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