Archive for Sunday, June 30, 2002

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June 30, 2002

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Colombia: Clinton backs broader U.S. role against rebels

Former President Clinton said Saturday that he backs broadening military aid from Washington to battle insurgents in Colombia.

At a conference on how the private sector can help resolve the nation's 38-year conflict, Clinton described Colombia as a crucial "battleground in humanity's war against terror."

He made the comments in the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena as Congress considers lifting restrictions on U.S. counterdrug money to fight insurgent groups in Colombia. Clinton pushed through $1.7 billion in drug-fighting aid during his presidency.

The conflict sets two main rebel groups against a right-wing paramilitary army and the government. The U.S. State Department has placed all three illegal groups on its list of terrorist organizations.

Venezuela: Thousands join rally to support Chavez

More than 100,000 people rallied Saturday in support of President Hugo Chavez's so-called "peaceful and democratic revolution."

Chavez has gained popularity since April 11, when dissident generals briefly ousted the Venezuelan leader. Loyalists joined by tens of thousands of protesters in the street returned Chavez to power two days later.

According to Datanalisis, one of Venezuela's most reliable pollsters, at least 30 percent of this poverty-stricken South American nation's 24 million inhabitants back Chavez.

But opposition to Chavez is still strong, and government adversaries hope to remove him from office with an amendment to the Constitution.

Sri Lanka: Amnesty International says children recruited

Amnesty International Saturday accused Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels of recruiting children for fighting and said it had handed a list of 26 children to the guerrillas for verification.

"We sought clarification about these children between 13 to 16 years of age," said Derek Evans, leader of a three-member team of London-based human rights group that visited Sri Lanka for two weeks.

Amnesty International says children have been used in armed conflicts in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Colombia, Angola and Afghanistan.

The Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in this island nation off India's southern coast since 1983.

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