Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nicaragua gives asylum to 2 survivors of Colombia raid on FARC

pparently undeterred by an international scandal over his alleged offer earlier this year to help arm the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has granted asylum to two Colombian women who survived Colombia's March 1 bombing raid on FARC in Ecuador.

In an official press release, the president announced yesterday that he has granted asylum for humanitarian reasons to Doris Torres, 21, and Martha Pérez, 24, both of who reportedly arrived in Nicaragua on Sunday with human-rights workers from South America.

The president's announcement came the same day as a headline in the daily La Prensa accusing Ortega of being embroiled in “FARC-gate.” This was referring to Nicaragua's alleged offer to supply the Marxist rebel group with old weapons hidden in Nicaragua, according to information allegedly found in e-mails on computers that belonged to Raúl Reyes, the FARC's No. 2 in command. Reyes was killed in the March 1 raid, but his laptop allegedly survived the attack, according to the Colombian military.

The computer files that allegedly link the FARC to Ortega and other leftists in the area were published yesterday in the Spanish daily El País.

Ortega last month offered similar asylum to Mexican Lucía Morett, who also survived the attack on the FARC camp but insists she is a student, not a terrorist.

Although FARC is on U.S. and European Union lists of terrorist organizations, Ortega has shown public support for Reyes, who he says was a leader of the Colombian peace process. Ortega also hailed FARC leader Manuel Marulanda a “dear brother” and decorated him with the Order of Augusto Sandino.

Opposition leaders in Nicaragua, meanwhile, have expressed growing concern over Ortega's relation to the FARC and how it might affect Nicaragua's relations with the Untied States and other donor countries.

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