President García urges diplomatic solution to Colombia’s standoff with Ecuador and Venezuela

Following meetings with his Ecuadorean counterpart, President Alan García said today that Colombia did indeed violate Ecuador’s sovereignty when its military killed 21 members of Colombia’s largest rebel group, including a senior commander, during a raid Saturday on a guerrilla encampment in Ecuador’s northern jungle.

Garcia said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe should offer a full explanation and apology to Ecuador. But he also urged Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to tone down their saber rattling, and seek a diplomatic solution to the mounting regional crisis instead of mobilizing troops to the Colombian border.

Correa met with García today in the first of a five-country visit to rally regional support for his denouncement of Colombia’s actions.

The attack by Colombian commandos against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, has led to both Venezuela and Ecuador deploying troops and breaking off diplomatic relations with Bogota.

Authorities in Colombia responded by saying Colombian commandos found documents on the computer of Raúl Reyes, the No. 2 FARC rebel leader killed in the raid, suggesting that Venezuela and Ecuador had been providing finances to the guerrilla group.

Colombia’s vice president, Francisco Santos, alleged during a United Nations disarmament meeting in Geneva today that Reyes’ hard drive yielded evidence that the FARC was negotiating to obtain radioactive material to construct a dirty bomb, constituting a “grave threat for not only Colombia but the entire Andean and Latin American region.”

But in a news conference in Lima today, Correa labeled Uribe a war monger.

“My country has been attacked, it has been bombed by a foreign government,” he said.

Correa said authorities in Quito were in communication with the FARC rebels, negotiating the release of 11 hostages, including Colombian legislator Ingrid Betancourt, who was a presidential front runner when she was kidnapped by the guerrillas seven years ago.

“There is no argument that justifies this aggression,” Correa said. “If this act remains unpunished, the entire region will be in danger. The next victim could be Peru.”

García called for a “just and honorable end to the situation,” through mediation by the Organization of American States, and he suggested that Uribe “extend all courtesies to Ecuador.”

Peru and Colombia are closely allied with Washington, which Correa suggested was somehow involved in Colombia’s military incursion into his country. Correa’s socialist administration is closely allied with Chavez, Washington’s staunchest adversary in the region.

U.S. President George Bush accused Chavez’s government of “provocative maneuvers” against Colombia, and pledged Washington’s support for Colombia “as it confronts violence and terror and fights drug trafficking.”

Garcia told reporters that Venezuela was not aggrieved by the commando raid in Ecuador and he urged Venezuela to refrain from stoking the dispute with inflammatory language or military action.

Meanwhile the regional president of Peru’s north-eastern Loreto Department, which borders Colombia and Ecuador, called for the Peruvian Executive to reinforce its border to impede FARC movement into Peru.

Yván Vásquez told Ideele Radio, “we need to reinforce the border, given the sensibility of the problem and the risk of Colombian guerrillas moving within Ecuador or Peru.”

Sharing is caring!

Comments are closed.