Venezuela Ratifies Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism

Venezuela ratified yesterday the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism during the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism meeting in Uruguay. 22 other countries, including the U.S., are yet to ratify it

Caracas, Venezuela Jan. 30 ( The government of Venezuela ratified yesterday the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism during the Fourth Regular Session of the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) celebrated in Montevideo, Uruguay.

During a brief ceremony, Venezuelan ambassador Nelson Pineda Prada, alternate representative of Venezuela before the OAS, delivered the ratifying document, emphasizing that the fight against terrorism must be made “within the framework of the reciprocal cooperation, the respect to the Law, Human Rights, the norms and principles of the International Law, the humanitarian international laws and preserving the sovereignty of the states.”

By making references about “reciprocity”, the Venezuelan Ambassador referred to the pending detention request for the extradition of suspected Venezuelan terrorists who escaped authorities and fled to the United States last December. The Venezuelan rebels have been charged in connection with the terrorist attacks to the Embassy of Spain and the Consulate of Colombia in Caracas, on February 26, 2003. On January 28th, Venezuela made a formal request to the U.S. Department of State to detain the terror suspects as a precautionary measure in preparation for their extradition to Venezuela.

Venezuelan officials have accused the U.S. government of having a double standard in the fight against terrorism. The terror suspects whose detention was requested by Venezuela, are part of a group of rebel military officers who have sought to overthrow the government of President Hugo Chavez. Chavez’s left-wing rhetoric and social justice agenda has irritated Washington officials, who have financed opposition movements in Venezuela, and have been accused of helping to orchestrate the April 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez.

Last year, Venezuela complained about terrorist acts being planned in Florida against the Venezuelan government and President Chavez. Chavez cancelled his trip to the UN General Assembly Ordinary Meeting, after intelligence reports uncovered a possible plot to assassinate him. The existence of training camps run by former Venezuelan military personnel living in the United States has been documented by the Miami Herald, which published a report with photos of Venezuelan government opponents wearing military uniforms training with anti-Fidel Castro militants.

Last week, Venezuelan Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel, responded to comments by US State Department Coordinator for counter-terrorism, Joseph Cofer Black, with regard to Venezuela’s cooperation in the so-called “war on terrorism”. Black had said that Venezuela has room to improve in its cooperating on the fight against terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. Rangel demanded cooperation from the US to bring to justice several Venezuelans terrorism suspects who are in US soil. “We share their concerns on the fight against terrorism, but we demanded reciprocity and we want that all the terrorists receive the sanctions they deserve.”

US media has quoted unidentified U.S. officials claiming that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez might be providing help to leftist groups in neighboring Colombia. Chavez and several Venezuelan officials have denied the allegations and asked the US to present proof of their statements. Political opponents to Chavez have accused him of similar charges, and have filed numerous lawsuits against him, all of which have been dismissed by judges.

By ratifying this Convention, the Chavez administration seems to be sending a signal to critics who doubt his credentials as a democratic leader fighting for Peace.

Venezuela has recently ratified several international treaties such as The International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, the Terrorist Financing Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.

U.S. yet to ratify Anti-Terror Convention

The Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism was adopted by OAS member states during the General Assembly of the OAS, celebrated in June of 2002 in Barbados. The Convention went into effect on July 10 of 2003, and has been subscribed by 33 of the OAS member countries. However, at this point, only Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Canada, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru, have ratified the Convention.

Even though the United States has urged all OAS member states to ratify the Convention Against Terrorism, the U.S. has not yet ratified it.

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