FARC leaders said Tuesday that Colombia`s murder of Reyes "gravely struck the possibilities of humanitarian exchange and annulled a political outlet in the conflict," and urged that Venezuela, France, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Bolivia push for the demilitarization of two Colombian municipalities which the FARC say must be clear of government forces in order for hostage release to proceed.
Claims by the Colombian government to have acted in self-defense have been refuted by survivor testimonies and Ecuadorian government investigations which reveal evidence that it was a pre-planned "massacre" of a sleeping encampment.
On top of that, says Venezuelan Analysis, "...reports that U.S. Admiral Joseph Nimmich met with Colombian military leaders in Bogotá two days before Saturday`s attacks with the stated purpose of "sharing vital information in the fight against terrorism" have fueled suspicions of direct U.S. involvement in invasion."
Inside Colombia FARC blew up a pipeline belonging to Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol in reaction to the raid today.
Ecuador and Venezuela ordered troops to their borders with Colombia and reduced diplomatic ties with that nation, calling the attack a violation of Ecuador’s sovereignty.
In Ecuador today civil, political and grass-roots organizations took to the streets to support their government's reaction to the raid on its territory (see picture). The Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, called President Uribe of Colombia a "criminal, mafioso, paramilitary" leading a "narco-government".
Prensa Latina reports Presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Argentina) and Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) today hailed an Organization of American States (OAS) resolution on Colombia´s aggression against Ecuador as a step to prevent other similar actions in Latin America. The OAS adopted a resolution on Wednesday which said Colombia violated Ecuador's sovereignty by launching a military raid into its territory. The OAS formally declared that Colombia`s actions violated Ecuador`s national sovereignty and broke international law, both of which the OAS declared are "inviolable...directly or indirectly, for whatever reason, even temporarily".
Even before the final OAS vote was taken Fernandez told Radio Mitre, "I consider it important to unanimously condemn this violation of territorial sovereignty, which cannot have any pretext or cause,"
She said "There is no single president who has failed to note the need to flatly reject the violation of territorial sovereignty of any of our countries for any cause."
In Chile, President Michelle Bachelet criticized the Colombian air strike, saying that it was a shame that “borders were not respected” and calling on Colombia to provide Ecuador an explanation.
The media in Nicaragua described the situation as extremely serious.
On Monday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega warned against the dangers caused by the action of the government of Colombia for South and Central America. He added that Colombia violated international law. Ortega said today he was breaking off diplomatic relations with Colombia as did Venezuela and Ecuador earlier this week.
Brazil condemned the bomb attack on Monday and called on Bogota to offer an explicit apology.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Tuesday added his voice to the regional condemnation of Colombia's military strike on rebels inside Ecuador, and called on the two countries to resolve the problem peacefully.
"We coincide in the rejection of any action that constitutes a violation of territorial sovereignty," Calderon said after a meeting with Salvadoran President Tony Saca in which the two leaders discussed the crisis.
A Mexican student was killed in the raid as were more than twenty others in the bombing raid.
The Bush administration, not surprisingly, was quick to defend Colombia's cross-border moves,
The response made by Barack Obama to the cross border killing and incursion ought to disappoint his "progressive" supporters. A statement released by the Obama campaign pretty much parroted that of the Bush Administration (and his opponent Hillary Clinton). The statement read:
"The Colombian people have suffered for more than four decades at the hands of a brutal terrorist insurgency, and the Colombian government has every right to defend itself against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The recent targeted killing of a senior FARC leader must not be used as a pretense to ratchet up tensions or to threaten the stability of the region."
The presidents of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela have a responsibility to ensure that events not spiral out of control, and to peacefully address any disputes through active diplomacy with the help of international actors."
On the other hand, the Colombia Action Network issued the following statement on the crisis:
"The Colombia Action Network is outraged at the Colombian army's air assault and raid on March 1st into Ecuador. The Colombian government justifies it's actions by stating they acted in "self-defense". However, we see this for what it is, an escalation of Colombia's civil war, a violation of Ecuador's sovereignty, a threat of war against Venezuela and other neighboring countries, and a further attack on the rights the people of Latin America."
The attack came just days after the FARC unilaterally released hostages for the second time. The attack is a clear sign that the U.S. backed Colombian government has decided that it is not interested in negotiating for hostages or for peace. Colombian President Uribe and U.S. President Bush are only interested in war."
We are outraged that the Colombian government killed 20 members of the FARC, including a high ranking leader Raúl Reyes. We see this as an act of aggression and as a dangerous escalation of the Colombian civil war."
We call upon the Colombian government to stop violating the sovereignty of Ecuador, to stop threatening neighboring Venezuela, and to stop killing, torturing, and detaining civilians in its brutal civil war."
We call upon the U.S. government to stop funding the war crazy government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. The U.S. has spent close to five billion of dollars funding the Colombian government's war on leftist rebels under the auspices of the "war on drugs" and the "war on terrorism". In reality the U.S. is funding the war and it's potential escalation to surrounding countries."
The following report is from that well know radical leftist news service known as Bloomberg.
Colombia Pipeline Bombed by FARC After Ecuador Attack (Update5)
Colombian rebels bombed an oil pipeline and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he may seize assets of the neighboring country's companies after a Colombian raid into Ecuador killed a rebel leader.
The bombing and Chavez's nationalization threats may be the start of reprisals for the March 1 air raid on Ecuadorean soil that killed the second-in-command of Colombia's biggest guerrilla group. Escalation of the conflict could cut the more than $5 billion in annual trade between Venezuela and Colombia.
``This is definitely the beginning of reprisals against Colombia and it is likely to continue,'' Edgar Jimenez, an equity analyst at Stanford Bolsa y Banca in Bogota, said in a telephone interview.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, bombed the Transandino pipeline in Putumayo province, putting it out of service for at least three days, Colombia's Vice Minister of Mining and Energy Manuel Maiguashca said.
Owned by state oil company Ecopetrol SA, the pipeline brings petroleum from fields in Colombia and Ecuador to an export facility in Tumaco in Narino province on Colombia's Pacific coast.
Crude oil for April delivery rose 98 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $105.50 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega said today his country was joining Ecuador in breaking diplomatic relations with Colombia. Chavez, during a news conference last night in Caracas, asked his ministers to draw up an inventory of Colombian assets in Venezuela.
``Some of them could be nationalized,'' Chavez said. ``We're not interested in Colombian investments here.''
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, who joined Chavez at the press conference, called on the international community to condemn Colombia for its cross-border strike. He said he'll only accept the findings of a panel set up by the Organization of American States to investigate the attack if it denounces Colombia's actions.
``If the international community doesn't condemn this aggressor without question, then Ecuador will know how to respond,'' Correa said.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on the countries to reach a diplomatic agreement over the border raid. She called Colombia a ``good friend.''
``Everybody needs to be vigilant about the use of border areas by terrorist organizations like the FARC,'' Rice told reporters after a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization foreign ministers in Brussels.
Attacks on oil pipelines, including the Transandino, which carries about 60,000 barrels a day, have declined as Uribe boosts security near oil fields.
One Colombian field, Cano Limon, was hit 170 times in 2001, a figure that fell to 34 in 2003, the most recent year when figures were reported. The Transandino was attacked 30 times in November 2003, according to the Ecopetrol Web site.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner met her Venezuelan and Ecuadorean counterparts today in Caracas.
``No one can agree with what Colombia did,'' Argentine Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernandez said in an interview on Radio 10 in Buenos Aires today. ``This is a violation of sovereignty that worries and infuriates us.''
Chavez, who calls the U.S. the ``empire'' and refers to President George W. Bush as ``Mr. Evil,'' said the U.S. was behind the attack. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, in contrast, calls the U.S. ``a friend.''
Chavez and Correa, both self-proclaimed socialists, sent troops to their respective borders with Colombia this week to increase security.
An expanded military presence along the frontier -- already rife with paramilitary, drug trafficking and rebel activity -- raises tensions to a level where a miscalculation could trigger a military clash.
Grupo Nacional de Chocolates SA, Colombia's largest food company, stands to lose the most among publicly traded companies, analysts and traders said. The shares have fallen 4.3 percent since the raid.
Colombia is a key trading partner with Venezuela and Ecuador, supplying both with food and other goods.
Other companies that operate in Venezuela include Cementos Argos SA, Colombia's biggest cement maker, and Compania Colombiana de Inversiones SA, an investment holding company, Rupert Stebbings, head of international sales at brokerage Interbolsa, said by phone from Medellin.
``If push comes to shove, and Chavez is able to somehow reduce Colombian exports to Venezuela, Colombia takes a hit,'' said Boris Segura, an economist at Morgan Stanley in New York. ``A lot of Colombia's exports to Venezuela are industrial goods, which have high value added, and generate a lot of employment.''
Protesters and Chavez supporters gathered in the Plaza Venezuela near downtown Caracas today, carrying pictures of Uribe with a red handprint covering his face, and the words ``No More!''
In Bogota, a similar protest was held in Plaza Bolivar square, with participants carrying banners emblazoned with Chavez's image and chanting anti-Uribe slogans.
To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Walter in Caracas at email@example.com; Helen Murphy in Bogota at firstname.lastname@example.org