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OAS to Hold Emergency Meeting on South American Crisis


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Now this action makes two countries that Venezuela has threatened to invade.






OAS to Hold Emergency Meeting on South American Crisis

By VOA News

04 March 2008




The Organization of American States will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday in an attempt to peacefully resolve a dispute involving Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, which have sent troops to their borders.


Ecuador's President Rafael Correa says he feels betrayed by Colombia's government for the attack against Colombian FARC rebels encamped in Ecuador.


He also says the raid derailed talks between his government and FARC to secure the release of 12 hostages, including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.


Ecuadorian officials also reject Colombian claims that Quito has links to the Marxist rebels.


Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos said Tuesday material found on the computer of FARC's deputy commander showed the group was trying to buy radioactive material to use in so-called dirty bombs.


Colombian officials also say their forces found documents during Saturday's raid showing that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez paid $300 million to support FARC rebels in Colombia.


Venezuelan officials reject the claim.


Venezuela has ordered the expulsion of Colombia's ambassador and other diplomats from Caracas. Ecuador has also broken relations with Colombia.


Both the Ecuadorean and Venezuelan presidents have ordered troops to their countries' borders with Colombia.


Colombia's government apologized for the raid, which killed 21 people, but said it was a necessary part of its decades-long military struggle with FARC rebels.


U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey voiced support for Colombia's efforts to respond to threats from the FARC, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Casey appealed for a diplomatic solution to the dispute between Colombia and Ecuador, and called on Venezuela to stay out of it.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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Guest LAW_*

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People's Army (in Spanish Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–Ejército del Pueblo), also known by the acronym of FARC or FARC-EP, is a guerrilla organization, self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist.


The FARC is considered a terrorist group by the Colombian government, the United States, Canada, the Latin American Parliament, and the European Union. Cuba and Venezuela instead refer to the leftist rebels as "insurgents." Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, for example, publicly rejected this classification in January of 2008 and called on Colombia and other world governments to recognize the guerrillas as a "belligerent force", arguing that they would then be obliged to renounce kidnappings and terror acts in order to respect the Geneva Conventions.


FARC has financed itself through kidnapping ransoms, extortion, and drug trafficking which includes but it is not limited to coca plant harvesting, protection of their crops, processing of coca leaves to manufacture cocaine, and drug trade protection. Businesses operating in rural areas, including agricultural, oil, and mining interests, were required to pay "vaccines" (monthly extortions) which "protected" them from subsequent attacks and kidnappings. An additional, albeit less lucrative, source of revenue was highway blockades where guerrillas stopped motorists and buses in order to confiscate jewelry and money, which were especially prevalent during the presidencies of Ernesto Samper (1994-1998) and that of Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002).

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Guest human_*

Look! To the Democrats; You created this problem by supporting Hugo Chavez, and to me? It Will be really telling if you do not support an ally who believes in democracy.





WASHINGTON: President George W Bush urged US lawmakers on Tuesday to approve a controversial free trade agreement with Colombia to show support for a strong US ally entangled in a crisis with its neighbors.


"If we fail to approve this agreement, we will let down a close ally. We will damage our credibility in the region and we will embolden the demagogues in our hemisphere," Bush said after talking by phone with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.


The Andean region has become embroiled in a diplomatic and military crisis after a raid by Colombian troops into Ecuador on Saturday that killed a top commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC.


FARC is considered a terrorist group by Uribe and his backer, the United States. But Ecuador and Venezuela have responded to the raid by cutting diplomatic ties and ordering troops to their borders with Colombia.


"President Uribe told me that one of the most important ways America can demonstrate its support for Colombia is by moving forward with a free trade agreement that we negotiated," Bush said. "So Republicans and Democrats in Congress need to come together and approve this agreement."


The White House has tried for months to persuade Democratic leaders in Congress to schedule a vote on the Colombian agreement. But many Democrats from districts with heavy union membership are strongly opposed to the pact.


Reflecting those views, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted that Colombia show more progress in reducing killings of trade unionists and putting murderers in jail before Congress votes on the free trade deal.


House Republican leaders echoed Bush's call and said approving the pact would help stop anti-American sentiment being spread by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.


"A dangerous ideology is on the rise in Latin America - fuelled by Hugo Chavez's irresponsible, unhinged rhetoric, and financed by his statist oil regime," House Republican Whip Roy Blunt said in a statement urging House leaders to set a "simple up-or-down vote" on the Colombia pact.


But a House Democratic aide, speaking on condition he not be identified, said it was doubtful the Andean region turmoil would motivate congressional leaders to act.


"The two issues are separate - the regional diplomatic and military crisis will not be solved by approving the Colombia FTA," the House aide said.


The Colombia agreement is protected by White House trade promotion authority, which requires Congress to approve or reject trade deals within 90 legislative days without making any changes. However, on Tuesday, Bush once again stopped short of saying he would use that option to force a vote.


John Murphy, vice president for international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, said the White House is nearing the point where it may decide to send the agreement to Congress, even if House leaders don't cooperate.


"To get to a vote this year, the administration will have to act sooner rather than later," Murphy said.

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  • 2 weeks later...

UPDATE; Colombia and Ecuador reach an agreement.





COLOMBIA-ECUADOR: OAS Rejects Military Incursion

By Constanza Vieira*


BOGOTA, Mar 18 (IPS) - After 14 hours of deliberation, the foreign ministers of the members of the Organisation of American States (OAS) announced Tuesday that they "reject" Colombia’s recent cross-border incursion into Ecuador, which was carried out "without the knowledge or prior consent of the government" of that country.


The United States, however, refused to approve that point.


In a report prepared by an OAS commission that investigated the Mar. 1 bombing raid by Colombia on a FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla camp within Ecuadorian territory, the Colombian government modified its own initial version of how the attack was carried out.


Colombia was pleased that the OAS resolution did not include the much stronger term "condemn," and that it did not consider sanctions. The term "reject" is stated in the fourth paragraph, while the third paragraph "reaffirm(s) the full applicability of the principle of territorial sovereignty".


The United States supported the resolution with reservations, arguing that Colombia has the right to act in self-defence as established by Article 22 of the OAS charter, which was approved in 1948.


But paragraph four states that Colombia violated Articles 19 and 21 of the OAS charter.


Article 19 establishes that "No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state", while article 21 says that "The territory of a state is inviolable; it may not be the object, even temporarily, of military occupation or of other measures of force taken by another state, directly or indirectly, on any grounds whatever."


The first paragraph of the resolution approved Tuesday says that "abstention from the threat or use of force, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states" are "principles that are binding on all (OAS) member states in all circumstances."


The OAS once again avoided describing the FARC as a "terrorist" force, as it is classified by Colombia, the United States and the European Union.


The resolution also took into account Colombia’s request "To reiterate the firm commitment of all member states to combat threats to security caused by the actions of irregular groups or criminal organisations, especially those associated with drug trafficking," and to create a mechanism for monitoring compliance with this resolution.


After meeting all night in Washington, the ministers finally reached an agreement on the resolution at 5:00 AM GMT.


The Colombian bombing of the FARC camp in Ecuador, which killed the rebel group’s international spokesman, Raúl Reyes, led to the rupture of diplomatic ties with Colombia by Ecuador.


The OAS resolution also "welcomed" the declaration adopted by the heads of state and government of the Rio Group, Latin America's highest-level political forum, at its Mar. 7 summit in the Dominican Republic, underlining "its contribution to the easing of tensions and to rapprochement between the parties, based on the principle of international law."


After a heated debate in the summit in Santo Domingo, handshakes and hugs put an end to the tension between Presidents Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, on one hand, and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Rafael Correa of Ecuador on the other.




The foreign ministers also received the report by the OAS fact-finding commission that visited the site of the attack and other spots in Ecuador as well as Colombia from Mar. 9-12, headed up by Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, in compliance with a resolution adopted by the OAS Permanent Council on Mar. 5.


In the report, the description of events that the Uribe administration gave the OAS delegation differs from what was described in the government’s initial public statements.


The report presented by the delegation says Colombian authorities had initially planned to attack a camp in Colombia, where Reyes was supposed to be found on Feb. 29.


But late that night, the Colombian military received information that Reyes was actually across the border in Ecuador, which led them to the decision to carry out a "double" operation, with attacks on both camps, using "different planes," as Uribe administration officials told the OAS commission.


Immediately after the raid, however, Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos had stated that the military had originally planned to bomb a location in Colombia, close to the border, at 12:25 AM, but that as the troops being transported by helicopter were approaching the place, to occupy it, they were attacked from across the Ecuadorian border.


The communiqué read out by Santos added that after a soldier, Carlos Hernández, "unfortunately died in the attack by the guerrillas," the camp from which the rebels opened fire was located, 1,800 metres inside Ecuador, and was bombed from Colombian territory, without violating Ecuadorian airspace.


But the Colombian government told the OAS that Hernández died in Ecuador and that his body was transported to Colombia from that country along with the bodies of Reyes and another guerrilla, who has not yet been identified.


Colombian journalist Ignacio Gómez told the Noticias Uno TV news station on Sunday that Hernández was killed when a tree left just barely standing after the camp was bombed from the air fell on him.


Ecuadorian President Correa expressed to the OAS his doubts on whether international humanitarian law was respected, since several bodies had "bullet wounds in their back, fired from a short distance," indicating that they had been the victims of extrajudicial execution. The people in the camp were sleeping at the time of the bombing raid.


Ecuador also called for clarification of "how long the incursion by the Colombian military forces in Ecuadorian territory lasted."


According to the technical report that the Ecuadorian military presented to the OAS, "six 500-pound GBU-12 bombs were dropped by planes flying in a South to North direction, and four bombs were dropped by planes moving in a North to South direction…within Ecuadorian airspace."


The Correa administration also maintains that the bombs used require advanced technology that the Colombian air force does not have.


The GBU-12 (Guided Bomb Unit) is an antitank laser-guided air-to-ground missile that has no propulsion system of its own, which means the pilot must be relatively close to the target in order for the laser guidance system to operate.


Colombia, however, claimed that the bombs used were "conventional" and roundly denied that its planes had overflown Ecuadorian territory.


According to the Colombian government, the bombs were launched by A-37 planes and guided by satellite by means of the Global Positioning System (GPS).


But when Bogotá notified Quito of the attack, it provided inaccurate coordinates, according to the Correa administration, which is why the first Ecuadorian military contingent took longer than expected to reach the site of the bombing, arriving at 1:00 PM that day (the raid occurred in the early morning hours).


*With additional reporting by Humberto Márquez in Caracas. (END/2008)

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