Chavez, Uribe and Correa: let the battle begin

Since the to kill the FARC rebel group's number two Raul Reyes, a three-way brawl has erupted between presidents Chavez, Correa and Uribe. Comments from our Observers in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador...


Since the Colombian army marched into Ecuador to kill the FARC rebel group's number two Raul Reyes, a three-way brawl has erupted between presidents Chavez, Correa and Uribe.

Ecuador was outraged when the Colombian army marched over the border -seemingly overlooking territorial integrity- and so was Venezuela, who has accused the Colombian president of spoiling negotiations with the FARC over the release of hostages. The two countries lined troops along the Colombian border and withdrew their ambassadors from Bogota. It didn't take long for Colombian president Alvaro Uribe to fire back, saying that documents obtained during the intervention prove that Rafael Correa and Hugo Chavez have been directly supporting the FARC and had given the rebel group a huge financial donation.

Material compiled with the help of our Observer in Argentina, Johana Kunin.

"The Venezuelan president was waiting for an excuse to heighten tensions with Colombia"

Jaime Restrepo is a Colombian journalist specialised in defence problems:

The Venezuelan president was waiting for an excuse to heighten tensions with Colombia and its president... The excuse finally arrived.

Colombia's operation did violate Ecuador's sovereignty. But it's quite clear that the FARC are present on Ecuadorian soil, and while the Colombian government condemns it, their neighbours do nothing to stop the terrorists from squatting on their land. This aroused suspicions in Colombia. So much so that Uribe was pushed to the point of taking a difficult decision- to launch a military operation without involving the Ecuadorian government, accepting the consequences later.

Since the death of terrorist Raul Reyes, who had already been sentenced 20 times and yet still had 120 cases waiting to be brought against him, (for terrorism, murder and even paedophilia), Venezuela and Ecuador have tried to minimise their relations with the FARC, however well described they are in the computer documents seized during Reyes' attack."

"Those who can, march against the FARC"

3 February 08 in Bogota. BBDO agency.

Chaburrin and Correin (Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa)

Photo by Freddy Armas

I introduce you to ventriloquist Chaburrín and his humble mascot, Correín. Everything Chaburrín says, Correín mimics perfectly. On tour soon in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Don't miss the show!"

"The affair will only worsen the problem of shortages in provisions"

From our Observer José Luis Restrepo, a lawyer from the town of San Cristobal on the frontier between Venezuela and Colombia:

San Cristobal is a town with less than one million inhabitants situated about 30 miles from the Colombian border. A lot of the residents are of Colombian origin, like myself, and many live from trading with Colombia. For us, these past few days have been hugely intense. We're very worried about the development of this conflict.

Today, the government announced the closure of the frontier, although it only lasted 20 minutes. (...) The supermarkets were packed today. People were grabbing everything. The affair will only worsen the problem of shortages in provisions. We have to queue for petrol and there's no gas left for the houses. But we haven't seen any troops and the police seem to be doing what they usually do."

"Chavez took this decision during his TV programme 'Aló Presidente'"

Karelia Espinoza Tartaret teaches political science in Barquisimeto, Venezuela:

Who took the decision to close the Venezuelan embassy in Colombia and assemble troops on the frontier? The state? No, Hugo Chavez did. And he made this decision during his TV programme "Aló Presidente", as though he was choosing what colour shirt to wear that day. He took this decision lightly even though it could endanger the democracy of not only our country but of the whole continent.

According to our constitution, only the state can make the decision to mobilise troops. And when we talk about the state we're not just talking about one person, we're talking about an institution; one that must respect the law. How is it possible that one person (...) could have decided, without asking anyone, to attack a neighbouring country? (...)

Our president is considered legitimate because he won the election, but he's forgetting that Uribe was elected too and is very popular in Colombia. Uribe didn't promise houses, hospitals or populist crap. Uribe promised "democratic security", and that implied a war against the FARC."

"Wouldn’t you know about invading territory Mister Gringo?"

Alfredo Vera is a writer in Quito, Ecuador:

Uribe is like the character Luis Buñuel, who wears an angel mask when really he's a torturer. A torturer who really believes in negotiating peace, and certainly doesn't want a bloodbath, just like Bush in Iraq.

The US declares its support for Colombia, saying that the country acted in "self defence". Wouldn't you know about invading territory Mister Gringo?

Bush and Uribe, with their Colombia Plan, pushed for the internalisation of the conflict. (...)

Reyes and his companions didn't fight, they were sleeping and not even armed when they were killed. (...)

It's said that material taken from the dead guérilleros' computers proves that Ecuador was linked to the FARC. Those computers must have been protected then, because they were the only things left unharmed!

Reyes was assassinated while he was negotiating a humanitarian accord on the exchange of hostages. He had already helped with the release of six of them (...)

Mister Uribe, don't listen when people say Hugo Chavez is your enemy. Don't listen to the other Americas presidents or the media, and don't listen to me either. But listen to the voices of the recently released hostages.

Do not let your pride lead you to the limit of human stupidity, while Madame Betancourt is left in agony."