May 15, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez on Thursday vehemently denounced Interpol's conclusion that documents detailing links between Venezuela and Colombia's leftist rebels came directly from rebel computers and weren't tampered with by the Colombians.
"Do you think we should waste time here on something so ridiculous?" Chavez asked foreign journalists during a news conference.
Chavez said a "show of clowns" surrounded the announcement by Interpol's secretary general, Ronald Noble, that the agency found no evidence of tampering with the documents in computers that Colombia said it retrieved from a rebel camp in Ecuador.
Noble also said Interpol is "absolutely certain that the computer exhibits that our experts examined came from a FARC terrorist camp."
Chavez called Noble "a tremendous actor" and "an immoral police officer who applauds killers" - referring to Colombia's March 1 military attack on the Ecuadorean base that killed rebel leader Raul Reyes and 24 others.
"Ecuador is right," Chavez said. "The Colombian government should be tried in an international tribunal."
Chavez likened the accusations of Venezuelan support for the rebels to a plot from a James Bond movie, and his strident condemnation of the Colombian government pointed to rising tensions that could have diplomatic consequences.
He threatened to scale back Venezuela's economic ties with its neighbor, saying "imports from Colombia are not indispensable." He also said his government will reconsider its policy of letting Colombian companies obtain U.S. dollars to pay for imports while doing business in Venezuela.
Chavez has made similar threats in the past, but thus far billions of dollars in annual trade between the neighbors has not been seriously affected.
The socialist leader said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe "has to answer" for the killings at the rebel camp in Ecuador. Uribe has been violating an informal agreement reached with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa not to attack each other, he said.
Noble said there was no longer any doubt that the computers it studied belonged to Reyes. But Chavez mocked that conclusion, calling the Interpol official "Mr. Ignoble."
He said Venezuela would consider pulling out of the 186-member police organization.
"Where is the proof that computer was in that camp?" he asked, calling it "a big lie."
Chavez said as long as the Colombian leader remains in office "there will be no peace in Colombia" and that Uribe's government "has become a bomb" that could lead the region to war.