Monday, December 17, 2007

Venezuelans Demand Freedom for Carlos "The Jackal"

President Chavez Supports Liberation of Countryman Jailed in France

On June 27, 1975, a group of agents from the French Secret Service (DST) attempted to enter an apartment at Nº 9 Rue Toullier in Paris.A shootout began and as a result two DST agents and an informant called Michel Moukharbal were killed, while another DST agent was seriously wounded. From that day on, Ilich Ramirez, a Venezuelan citizen, became France's number 1 public enemy. The hunt for Ramirez, also known as "Carlos" or the "Jackal" (as he was baptized by the international tabloid press in relation with the novel written by Frederick Forsyth "The Day of the Jackal" ), ended nearly twenty tears later in Khartoum, Sudan, when Ramirez was kidnapped and secretly taken to France. Today an organization headed by his brother Vladimir and whose aim is to obtain the liberation of Carlos and his extradition continues to act in his native Venezuela . Support for this cause is increasing not only in the country but also in other South American countries and among public figures such as President Hugo Chavez that like Ilich Ramirez is also a devout Marxist. After a recent televised message where the president of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, pleads to the leader of FARC,(a Colombian guerrilla organization) to free Ingrid Betancourt, a French citizen, the case of Carlos once again gains importance. Since the French government wants to recover Betancourt that is prisoner of a South American organization, then there is a possibility for an exchange and that Carlos can return to Venezuela.

In a recent interview published in a Venezuelan blog ( Vladimir Ramirez explains why the French authorities must release his brother.
"During the trial the French judges never interviewed any witnesses or allowed to question any of the witnesses that were walking along Rue Toullier that day in 1975. Ilich never had a fair trial, the only evidence given by the prosecutors have been press reports published by the western media since 1975 until now," said Vladimir to ICR2021.

ICR2021 : Why are the Europeans so shocked by your extradition request since there have been similar cases in the involving citizens from those countries?

Vladimir: It is normal for western countries to do this. For example there was a woman from the U.S that was jailed in Peru accused of being a member of a left wing guerilla group. One of Bill Clinton´s last actions before ending his term in office was to plead with Fujimori to release her. Now the lady is finishing her sentence in a U.S jail and she is even allowed visits by her relatives, something that didn't happen in Peru. In those days Clinton was not accused of trying to destabilize the world, or of supporting revolutions and terrorist activities. Clinton knew that as a President his duty was to defend the rights of U.S citizens wherever they may be. Until now, none of our presidents acted like Clinton, only Chavez has done this.

ICR: Since he was kidnapped in Sudan, what are Ilich´s living conditions like?
Vladimir: They have been the same since 1994, with variations in the brutality shown by the French government. Ilich has been shown inhumane treatment, with eight years in solitary confinement, which is a violation of all the international treaties regarding jail conditions. Right now he has been transferred to a jail in very remote location, making it very difficult for his lawyers to visit him since they have to travel for two days. The French authorities want to break Ilich´s morale completely.
ICR: Is it true that some people that are planning to free Ilich through violent methods?:

Vladimir: Yes, I know that Ilich stirs up passions. There are some comrades that have called me and said that they are ready to carry out actions such as bombing the French Embassy, or kidnap the Ambassador etc., but Ilich has told me several times that his freedom must be obtained by political pressure not through military actions such as those he carried out in the past.

Excerpts from "The Only Biography Authorized by Ilich Ramirez (Carlos) by Vladimir Ramirez" and published in on March 30, 2007.

Ilich Ramirez was born in 1949 in Venezuela, the eldest son of Altagracia Ramírez Navas , a successful lawyer . In 1966 Altagracia designed an educational plan whereby Ilich and his two other brothers , Lenin and Vladimir would travel to Europe to learn English, French and German as well as the cultures of those countries. In 1968, Ilich traveled to Moscow, (then Soviet Union) to continue his studies at the Patrice Lumumba University. In Moscow Ilich met a Palestinian named Waddi Haddad, that invited him to join the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In 1970 Ilich travels to Jordania for military training at a PFLP refugee camp, where Haddad gives him the codename of "Khalid" the Arab equivalent for the name Carlos in Spanish, that Ilich would continue to use until today. In September of 1970, the Jordanian Army tried to expel the Palestinians from the country, and Carlos gets his first combat experience in a conflict that ends with 3000 dead refugees. After this episode, the PFLP decided to form an international military branch called "Black September" that would carry out acts of sabotage against pro western Arab governments, the United States and Israel.
On December 21, 1976 Carlos headed a commando formed with members of several nationalities and storms the headquarters of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna,Austria. A total of 62 hostages are captured among Ministers of the Member countries , aides and security guards. The objective of the operation was to denounce the plight of the Palestinian people, the aggression it faces from the governments of Israel and United States, as well as the collaboration of the regimes in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Iran (that was then ruled by the Shah). The local police attempted a rescue operation that failed after three people were killed. The next day Carlos and his commando was flown along with the 42 hostages to Algeria, where they were freed on December 24.
After the success of the operation in Vienna, the international tabloid press began to create the myth of Carlos by slandering him with the nickname of "The Jackal". Also many armed operations carried out by Palestinian fighters were attributed to Carlos such as the hijack of the Air France airliner to Entebbe, Uganda, where Ilich did not take part. From then on Ilich and his comrades were indeed involved in the war between East and West, Arabs and Zionists, oppressed and oppressors, and their theater of operations was in Europe and the Middle East, and their main enemies were the secret services of Israel, United States and its allies.
After 1990, due to the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block, Ilich´s movements are restricted to the Middle East due to the pressure that the United States, Israel and Europe put on former allies of Ilich to turn his back on him. By the end of 1993, Ilich was granted refuge by the government of Sudan, but the pressure that the imperialists put on the Sudanese makes them reach an agreement to hand over Ilich in return for military aid to continue the war against the rebel forces in southern Sudan.

On August 15,1994 , while Ilich was recovering from a surgery, the Sudanese delivered him to French agents that kidnap him in a jet plane to France.
At the Air Force base of Villacoublay, Ilich was shown a "national arrest warrant" that is only valid for persons that have been arrested within French territory. This is why we consider that Ilich was kidnapped by the French state and therefore the whole court case against him is invalid since there was no previous extradition process as is the custom, and therefore he must be released immediately and repatriated to Venezuela.
We also denounce that during the twelve years that Ilich has been jailed in France, he has been physically tortured, attacked and has suffered assassination attempts by other inmates paid by the prison wardens, and has until now been under solitary confinement for a total of ten years.
In December 1997 Ilich was sentenced to two counts of life imprisonment for the supposed murder of two French security agents.

Other operations in Europe where Carlos may have been involved:

In February 1971, the FPLP sent Carlos on a mission to London to gather information such as home addresses, telephone numbers, nick names and as many personal details about prominent pro-Israeli figures living in Europe.
After some months the list of names given by Carlos to the FPLP included famous film stars, entertainers, politicians and prominent business figures such as Joseph Sieff owner of the most famous department store in the UK, Marks and Spencer and also vice-president of the British Zionist Federation. On December 30, 1973 , Sieff was in his home on the outskirts of London when a young man of dark complexion that spoke with a foreign accent forced the butler at gunpoint to take him to his employer's room. The man shot Sieff once in the face at point blank range, but could not continue firing since the gun jammed. Luckily for Sieff the police arrived within a few minutes but the lone gunman managed to escape, leaving the businessman with a nine-millimeter bullet lodged in his jaw.

September 15, 1974: Grenade attack against the "Le Drugstore" café , Paris.
March 29, 1982: Bombing of the Paris to Toulouse train.
April 22, 1982: Explosion of car bomb at Rue Marbeuf, Paris.
December 31,1983: Bombing of the Marseille to Paris train.
December 31,1983: Bomb attack at the Marseille train station.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Relatives of Colombian hostages demand Chavez mediation

Keith Stansell is held prisoner by Farc rebels in Colombia

Female Guerrilla deserts to Army with 4 year old prisoner

On Dec 4, a female member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC to use the Spanish acronym) escaped from a jungle base along with a four year old boy that was in her custody. According to the Colombian Army, Brian Rincon was kidnapped in June of this year from his kindergarten in the city of Cucuta, in the northern province of Santander. The small boy was taken to a jungle base of the FARC´s 10th Front where he was placed under the care of the woman whose name has not been revealed. A few days later FARC contacted Brian's parents and demanded a ransom of 500 million Colombian pesos (approximately US$245,000). However after nearly six months in her care, the woman took pity of Brian and decided to run away from the base and deliver the boy back to his family. Such was the bond created between the former guerilla and the boy that at first Brian refused to go with his real mother and instead demanded to continue with the woman that seems to be in her mid twenties. The woman also informed the Colombian Army that there are more children being held hostage in the jungle on the border with Venezuela.
This event adds further importance to the recent negotiations that have been carried out between the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe
and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, in order to organize an exchange of prisoners between the Colombian government and FARC.
On Nov 30, Uribe angered the relatives of the many hostages held by FARC after refusing to continue negotiating with Chavez. The relatives claim that Chavez was near to convincing the leader of FARC, Manuel Marulanda also known as "Tirofijo" (The Sureshot in Spanish), to release hundreds of Army officers, politicians and civilians imprisoned in the rebel bases. Today the mother of Ingrid Betancourt, a member of the Colombian congress that was captured by FARC five years ago has traveled to Caracas, Venezuela and asked President Chavez to continue negotiating in spite of Uribe´s refusal. Since Betancourt has dual nationality, the president of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, also met recently with Chavez to discuss the progress of the negotiations. Sarkozy recently proposed to Uribe and FARC that a demilitarized zone be created in some part of FARC controlled territory so that the prisoners can be exchanged. Also the U.S government is interested in reaching a solution since among the prisoners held by FARC are three American military advisers. In February 2003, Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Mark Gonsalves were piloting a Colombian airplane over FARC territory when the rebels shot it down with a Stinger missile. Since then the three Americans have been imprisoned in an unknown FARC base deep in the Colombian jungle.

Thomas Howes, American military adviser currently prisoner in Colombia

Only a few days ago, the Colombian Army captured some young women as they headed from the jungle towards a city. Inside their belongings the Army soldiers discovered photos of Ingrid Betancourt, the three Americans and many other hostages that may have been taken very recently, as well as letters for their relatives. It seems that FARC tried to keep the promise made to Hugo Chavez that "proof of life" would be delivered before continuing with negotiations. The relatives have also criticized the Army for revealing the content of the mail, among which are a letter from Keith Stansell to his Colombian wife and last will testaments by the other two Americans.
In an interview earlier this year with Clarin , a well known Argentine newspaper, the spokesman of FARC, Raul Reyes explained why Betancourt and the three Americans are kept as prisoners and also what FARC demands from the Colombian government.

Clarin Reporter : Why has it taken so long to free the prisoners, since some have been held for as long as ten years in the jungle?

Raul Reyes : The last time we negotiated with the government, we released 300 Army soldiers and only 14 of our members that were ill were released. Betancourt has not been "held hostage", to us she is a political prisoner because she is part of the system that were are fighting against.

C.R: What about the three Americans that you hold since 2003?
They are north American agents. FARC did not capture them in
Washington, Nueva York, Texas or Boston, but as they spied in Colombian territory .

C.R : The U.S Government says they are civil contractors......

R.R : That's a big lie. They were spying in Colombia, violating our sovereignty and independence. So we will only release them in exchange for our leaders Simon Trinidad and Sonia that are jailed in the United States, as well as the rest of our troops that are prisoners in Colombian jails.

C.R: Chavez offered his territory to do the prisoner swap. Do you accept this?
R.R: Through Clarin, I want to thank President Chavez for this gesture, for his generosity with Colombia and the relatives of the prisoners. However we have decided that this is a problem caused by the internal conflict in Colombia, so the swap must be done in Colombian territory.

C.R: So you refuse to hand over prisoners in Venezuela?

R.R: Yes, what we want is that first a demilitarized zone be created in Colombia before exchanging prisoners. We also want President Chavez to continue contributing in order to reach an agreement with the Government.