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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: « L’assassinat de Reyes visait à provoquer une crise régionale »

by Gérard Devienne

“Reyes’s Murder Aimed at Triggering a Regional Crisis”

Translated Monday 17 March 2008, by Jonathan Pierrel

South America. Patricio Echegaray, General Secretary of the Argentine Communist Party, touches on Bogota’s motivations as well as its ally in Washington.

HUMA: You were to meet Raul Reyes recently. What were you going to talk about?

ECHEGARAY: We were going to talk about the situation in Latin America; Colombia, of course; but also about Che Guevara’s birthday anniversary that will be celebrated in Rosario, the town where he was born; the São Paulo Forum, of which the FARC are a member; and about the hostages, of course.

HUMA: Do you play a part in this issue?

ECHEGARAY: Many States take part in the negotiations. I must congratulate the government of my country for the efforts it has agreed to make.

HUMA: Did you know Raul Reyes?

ECHEGARAY: I met him many times. The first time was about a year and a half ago.

HUMA: What about Marulanda?

ECHEGARAY: I have also met him. The first time was in 1997-1998. It was during a whole odyssey in the jungle that lasted for three months.

HUMA: Some newspapers argue that he’s been dead for a long time already.

ECHEGARAY: Recent news that we have from him reports him in great health.

HUMA: Do you also know Raul Reyes’s successor?

ECHEGARAY: His name is Joaquin Gomez. He is a commander on the South front. He is in his fifties. He comes from the Communist Youth of Colombia. He is a veterinary surgeon who studied at the Patrice Lumumba University. He is a member of the FARC’s leaders. He is an honest intellectual, well prepared politically. He will be a worthy successor to Reyes.

HUMA: How do you analyse Raul Reyes’s death?

ECHEGARAY: It is a premeditated murder by President Uribe aiming at provoking a regional war that George W. Bush hopes for in this Colombian plan. This country, according to Washington, should be used as a bridgehead for an aggression against Venezuela, following the example of what happened with Honduras in the fight between the United-States and Nicaragua. The principle of total war aims at making any hostage or prisoner exchange impossible. I would like to emphasize the FARC’s dignified role in this matter: they liberated hostages and are willing to continue doing so without compensation.

HUMA: According to Ecuadorian President Correa, the FARC should be liberating many hostages soon, including Ingrid Betancourt. What does Alvaro Uribe want to achieve by having Reyes killed?

ECHEGARAY: He wants to dynamite the humanitarian process of exchanging hostages and, with their deaths, to tarnish FARC’s image on the international scene. Moreover, in domestic politics, to get rid of Ingrid Betancourt, who is probably the most difficult rival that he would face in his re-election strategy.

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