Ecuador's Correa says FARC video is a set up
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa denied on Saturday that he ever received funds from Colombian rebel group FARC, and said a video claiming he did was "a set up", Reuters reported
A top FARC leader said in a video aired on Colombian television on Friday that the guerrillas donated cash to Correa's presidential campaign.
During his weekly media address, Correa vehemently denied that he ever got money from the FARC, which is branded a terrorist group by Washington, and said the video is part of a regional bid to destabilize left-leaning governments.
"This campaign, is not only taking place in Colombia, it's happening in the region, where the right has launched an attack, and they are using ... all the weapons they have, among them, the media, to destabilize progressive governments," he said.
"This is a set up to hurt the country's image, the image of the government," he said.
Correa is part of a group of leftist presidents in Latin America, including Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, who are turning their backs on Washington and implementing reforms to tighten the state's grip on the economy.
Correa has called the media "one of the worst enemies" that leftist Latin American governments face.
The Colombian attorney general's office said on Friday that police were investigating the statements in the video by Jorge Briceno Suarez, known as "Mono Jojoy," chief military commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish initials FARC.
U.S. and Colombian officials have previously said that computer files showed Ecuador and Venezuela had supported the FARC.
Ecuador's government has said any contact officials had with the rebels was in an effort to free hostages held by the group, which resorts to kidnapping and cocaine trafficking for funds.
Correa, a U.S.-educated economist accused by Colombia of not doing enough to help combat the FARC, first took office in 2007. He was re-elected earlier this year. The FARC video did not make clear which election campaign it was referring to.
Relations between the Andean neighbors have been rocky since March 2008, when Colombian forces killed 25 people in an anti-guerrilla raid on the Ecuadorean side of the border.
The countries cut diplomatic ties over the incident last year. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe later accused Ecuador of harboring terrorists, and Correa called Uribe a dictator.
Earlier this month, Ecuador, which has described the raid as a violation of its sovereignty, asked Interpol to arrest the Colombian defense minister at the time of the raid, Juan Manuel Santos, who may run for president next year. Interpol said no.
Correa on Saturday said the FARC video is Colombia's "revenge" against his government for seeking Santo's arrest.