‘Simon Bolivar would be ashamed of Chavez’

A U.S. congressman said that 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar “would be ashamed of what Chavez has done with Venezuela,” during a congressional discussion on Venezuela’s alleged ties with the FARC.

Florida Republican Congressman Connie Mack made the comment during a presentation to Congress by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs Arturo Valenzuela.

“There are certain indications that there has been some kind of assistance,” Valenzuela said, when asked by a U.S. senator if Chavez’s government worked with the FARC.

“We are worried about the FARC and the specific type of help it receives from different organizations,” Valenzuela said, adding that he would prefer to continue a discussion on the matter in a closed session.

Venezuela was involved in a diplomatic spat with Spain last week, after a Spanish judge alleged in a 26-page indictment that there are links between the Venezuelan government and Colombian FARC and Basque ETA rebels.

During the session, congressmen also called for the approval of the U.S. free trade agreement with Colombia. Valenzuela also expressed his support for the agreement and said that it, along with the pending FTA with Panama, is a key component of the U.S.’s economic relationship with the region.

The free trade pact signed by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2006 has been stalled in U.S. Congress due to concerns about violence against labor rights activists in Colombia.

Colombia’s Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata on Tuesday asked the U.S. to “be sincere and tell us if the free trade agreement is going to go ahead or not.”

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