Chavez defends Colombia rebels

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, has urged the international community to stop labelling Colombia’s left-wing rebels as terrorists, a day after mediating the release of two of their hostages.

The political aims of the groups need to be recognised, Chavez told Venezuelan politicians during his annual state of the nation speech on Friday.

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The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) “are not terrorist groups, they are armies, real armies that occupy space in Colombia,” Chavez said.

He urged European and Latin American nations to resist what he called “US pressure”.

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“I ask you [Colombian President Alvaro Uribe] that we start recognising the Farc and the ELN as insurgent forces in Colombia and not terrorist groups, and I ask the same of the governments of this continent and the world,” he said.
‘Terrorist’ organisations

The Farc is the oldest and largest guerrilla army in Latin America and has been fighting the government for several decades.

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