Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wars and Rumors of Wars


QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador broke off diplomatic ties with Colombia on Monday, escalating a dispute across the Andean region that erupted after Colombian soldiers raided inside its southern neighbor to kill a guerrilla leader.

Colombia also fueled the tensions by accusing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of funding Colombia's Marxist rebels -- a charge denied by the anti-U.S. president's government.

The three-nation crisis erupted when Colombia flew troops into Ecuador at the weekend in a bombing raid that killed a leading guerrilla commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

It was a major blow to Latin America's oldest guerrilla group. Chavez responded by ordering troops and tanks to the border with Colombia and he warned conservative President Alvaro Uribe that a similar strike on Venezuelan soil could lead to war.

Ecuador has also sent thousands of troops to the border and took another step in the dispute on

"The Ecuadorean government has decided to break off diplomatic relations," it said in a letter to Colombia's foreign ministry.

The juxtaposition of events in Colombia and Venezuela give a compelling indication that Hugo Chavez has allied himself with FARC, the terrorist rebels just across his border. The day after the Columbians managed to kill FARC’s second in command, Chavez moved ten battalions to the border, threatening war against the US-allied government in Bogota, which he called “criminal”

~ Hot Air

We need to understand how nuts these leftists are both in South America and the iconic class who visits them.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Warning that Colombia could spark a war, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent tanks and thousands of troops to the countries' border Sunday and ordered his government's embassy in Bogota closed.

The leftist leader warned Colombia's U.S.-allied government that Venezuela will not permit acts like Saturday's killing of top rebel leader Raul Reyes and 16 other Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas at a camp across the border in Ecuador.

"Mr. Defense Minister, move 10 battalions to the border with Colombia for me, immediately—tank battalions, deploy the air force," Chavez said during his weekly TV and radio program. "We don't want war, but we aren't going to permit the U.S. empire, which is the master (of Colombia) ... to come to divide us."

He ordered the Venezuelan Embassy in Bogota closed and said all embassy personnel would be withdrawn. It pushes already tense relations between the South American neighbors to their lowest point yet, with potentially far-reach effects on billions of dollars in cross-border trade.

Though Chavez didn't say how many troops he was sending, a Venezuelan battalion traditionally has some 600 soldiers—meaning some 6,000 could be headed to the border.

Chavez called the Colombian government "a terrorist state" as he sided with the leftist rebels it has battled for decades, saying its military "invaded Ecuador, flagrantly violated Ecuador's sovereignty."

Neither Colombia's foreign minister nor the country's military leadership would comment on Chavez's latest move when pressed by reporters for comment Sunday as they left a funeral service in Bogota for a Colombian soldier killed in Saturday's raid.

Speaking in Texas, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said officials were monitoring the situation.

"This is an odd reaction by Venezuela to Colombia's efforts against the FARC, a terrorist organization that continues to hold Colombians, Americans and others hostage," Johndroe said.

Chavez said he had just spoken to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and that Ecuador was also sending troops to its border with Colombia. Chavez said his Ecuadorean ally told him that Uribe had lied and that the rebels were killed while asleep "in their pajamas." …