Ecuador Cuts Ties With Colombia After Rebel Attack
By Brian Wagner
04 March 2008
Ecuador's government has cut all diplomatic ties with Colombia after a military attack on Colombian rebels inside Ecuador, which killed 21 people. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports the Colombian attack also has raised tensions with Venezuela.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa explained his government's decision in a speech late Monday, saying he felt betrayed by Colombia's government for ordering the cross-border attack on Saturday.
Mr. Correa said his country had offered peace and solidarity to Colombia in the struggle with leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. But he said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe now was trying to push the conflict beyond the Colombian border., but only to negotiate the release of hostages in rebel hands.
Mr. Correa said rebels were close to agreeing to the release of 12 hostages in Ecuador, including former politician Ingrid Betancourt. He said those efforts were frustrated by authoritarian powers in Bogota.
Earlier, Mr. Correa recalled his nation's ambassador from Colombia and announced plans to send military forces to the border in response to the Colombian attack.
Colombia's government has apologized for crossing into Ecuador, but said the strike was a necessary part of the decades-long military struggle with FARC rebels. Officials also said troops in the raid recovered valuable documents which detailed growing ties between rebels and the governments of Venezuela and Ecuador.
In Bogota, National Police Chief Oscar Naranjo said documents found on a computer at the camp included letters from FARC commander Raul Reyes, who was killed in the attack. He said the documents show Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent $300 million to the rebels, and they mention rebel involvement in cocaine trafficking and the apparent sale of 50 kilograms of uranium.
Naranjo said in one letter, rebels offer military assistance to Venezuela in the event of a U.S. attack.
He said the letter shows the two sides are not just growing closer, but there is an armed alliance between the FARC and Venezuela's government.
Venezuelan officials rejected the claims, and said they had information about links between drug traffickers and top Colombian officials.
The Organization of American States is to hold a meeting in Washington Tuesday to discuss the situation following the Colombian military strike.
Several Latin American leaders have appealed for calm, saying any conflict could hurt the region.
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