Magaly Janeth Moreno Vega AKA “La Perla”, wanted by Interpol and Colombia as a key fugitive leader of the outlawed AUC paramilitary network, was arrested by Venezuelan authorities in Maracaibo. There was no immediate word on whether Venezuela would extradite. Upon her arrest, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami again accused Colombia’s government of supporting the illegal paramilitaries and using them to subvert Venezuela. El Aissami, speaking on state television, accused Colombian President Alvaro Uribe of “institutional and moral decay” for his government’s ties to paramilitary groups that “attack our people and threaten peace and order.” (LAT, Nov. 23)
Meanwhile, in comments sure to reopen the flap about anti-Semitism in Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez praised the notorious international terrorist of Venezuelan birth, Ilich Ramirez Sánchez AKA “Carlos the Jackal”, calling him a “revolutionary fighter” and asserting that his lifetime imprisonment in France for a wave of deadly attacks across Europe was unfair. Chávez hailed Carlos the Jackal as “one of the great fighters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization,” denying he was a terrorist. “I defend him,” he said during a speech Nov. 21. “It doesn’t matter to me what they say tomorrow in Europe.” (London Times, Nov, 23)
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Another Colombian para boss busted on Venezuelan border
José Misael Valero Santana, a fugitive Colombian paramilitary commander, was arrested by Colombian authorities at a border checkpoint Nov. 18. He is wanted in the December 2000 attempted assassination in Bogotá of lawmaker Wilson Borja, who was the president of the National Federation of State Service Workers (FENALTRASE. The attempt was made with anti-tank rockets. The blasts left Borja gravely wounded and killed a woman who sold coffee on the street. In recent years, Valero Santana is said to have operated a paramilitary network in the Venezuelan border states of Táchira, Mérida, Barinas, Lara and Trujillo. (Miami Herald, Nov. 20; El Espectador, Bogotá, Nov. 18)
“Carlos the Jackal” gets life term in France
A French court on Dec. 15 sentenced Ilich Ramírez Sánchez life in prison for four separate bombings that killed eleven people and wounded nearly 150 others. The judge said the 62-year-old must serve at least 18 years of the life sentence. Sánchez has been serving another life sentence in France for the past 20 years on an unrelated murder conviction.
Authorities say Sánchez masterminded the terrorist bombings on two trains, a train station and on a Paris street during 1982 and 1983. Officials say two of the attacks were designed to persuade French authorities to free two of his associates and his girlfriend, who was acquitted by the court. Two co-conspirators were convicted in absentia and sentenced to life terms. (VOA, Dec. 16)