Sunday, March 02, 2008

Killing of FARC Leader Causes Colombia-Ecuador Tension

Hugo Chavez Warns of possible war in region

The Colombian Army announced on March 1 that during an attack on a rebel base near the southern border with Ecuador, its forces had killed Raul Reyes, the vice-commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The aerial attack carried out by Air Force jets armed with cluster bombs began approximately half an hour after midnight in a jungle area near the Putumayo River. According to President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, informants gave the exact coordinates of where Raul Reyes and his escort had camped 1800 meters within Ecuadorian territory.

photo of Raul Reyes dead by

“I take full responsibility for this action and also thank those informants that with the valuable information given have contributed to rid Colombia of bloodthirsty terrorists. We will pay their rewards immediately.” said Uribe during a televised press conference.
After being informed that Reyes was dead, Uribe phoned his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa that later expressed his indignation with the way the Colombian Army had acted inside his country’s territory. While President Uribe declared that his troops did not violate Ecuadorian territory, President Correa ordered Ecuador’s embassy in Bogota to be closed and that the Ambassador leaves Colombia.
“There was no combat, the FARC guerrillas were massacred as they were sleeping, we found 16 corpses. Colombian army soldiers entered our territory illegally and took away the bodies of Reyes,Julian Conrado and other rebels,” said Correa to TV reporters.

Photo of Julian Conrado by

The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez also ordered his Ambassador to return from Colombia and increased tension in the area by sending Venezuelan troops to the border with that country and sent a stern warning to Alvaro Uribe.
“Until when will Uribe continue with his madness? All that man wants is to continue with the war. Listen to me Mr. Uribe, if you try to do something like that in Venezuelan territory, you will create a causus bellis, in other words, a cause for war,” said Chavez in a televised press conference.
For the past year Chavez has continuously criticized Uribe whom he describes as “ a pawn of U.S imperialism, that carries out all the orders given to him by George Bush”. After Israel, Colombia is the world’s second highest recipient of U.S military aid with an estimated total of US$7 billion per year. During 2006 and 2007, the Venezuelan government headed by Chavez acquired Russian military equipment that included Mig fighter planes, combat helicopters and thousands of AK-47 assault rifles at a total estimated cost of between US$2 to US$3 billion.
Raul Reyes was an extremely important element for FARC since he was in charge of carrying out all international and peace negotiations. According to the Colombian Army, Reyes may even have been the current leader of the Colombian rebels since there are some unconfirmed rumors that Manuel Marulanda a.k.a “Tirofijo” (The Sureshot in Spanish),the man that founded FARC in 1964 may have died some years ago. Raul Reyes had been a member of FARC for the past thirty years after beginning his political career as a trade union representative while working at the Colombian branch of Nestle, the famous Swiss multinational company. In the past ten years he had become even more important to Marulanda since Reyes had married his daughter. FARC has not yet announced who will be the successor of Raul Reyes, but there are many candidates in its Central Command that is formed by some twenty individuals.

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