- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

COLOMBIA

Uribe disputes drug-ties report

BOGOTA — President Alvaro Uribe’s government sought to fend off accusations yesterday in a recently declassified 1991 U.S. military intelligence report linking him to powerful drug traffickers more than a decade ago.

The State Department rushed to support Mr. Uribe, who is a strong ally of Washington in the war on drugs.

“We completely disavow the allegations about Uribe. It’s not credible information,” said Robert Zimmerman, a State Department spokesman. “Uribe has a record of strong opposition to narcotrafficking.”

The document was prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency 13 years ago, when Mr. Uribe was a Colombian senator. It was released yesterday by the National Security Archive, a private research group based in Washington that used the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to make the document public.

The document placed Mr. Uribe at No. 82 on a list of 104 most important Colombian drug traffickers. It stated that he had close ties to the powerful Medellin cartel, whose leader Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993.

COLOMBIA

Talks with militias may be suspended

BOGOTA — President Alvaro Uribe yesterday threatened to kick two rival far-right paramilitary militias out of peace talks unless they stop a war that violates a cease-fire.

Mr. Uribe said he might expel the 6,000 fighters of the Centauros Bloc and the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Casanare from talks between the government and about 23,000 far-right outlaws.

Hundreds of fighters from the rival militias have been killed in a struggle over cocaine-producing regions in eastern Colombia despite the groups having promised to observe a cease-fire during talks with the government, security forces say.

VENEZUELA

Anti-Chavez suspects ordered arrested

CARACAS — Two weeks before a presidential-recall referendum, a judge on Friday ordered the arrests of 59 former military officers on suspicion of plotting against President Hugo Chavez’s government.

The arrests were announced after Interior Minister Luis Rincon said anti-government groups were plotting to attack Mr. Chavez and disrupt the Aug. 15 presidential-recall vote using stolen explosives.

The arrests were ordered the same day that Mr. Rincon discussed the purported plot, the state-run Venpres news agency reported.

On Saturday, Mr. Chavez threatened to intervene if the country’s largest telephone company, CANTV, were to be involved in any fraud relating to the recall referendum.

CANTV, owned by the U.S. company Verizon Communications, is part of a consortium operating the voting machines.

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