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Thursday, March 6, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

The rhetoric continues to fly in the Ecuador-Colombia-Venezuela situation. Earlier in the week, Colombia charged the Venezuelans with funding “genocide” 1. Chávez has his own charges: Colombia raid ‘must be condemned’

Mr Chavez, for his part, branded the Colombian raid a “war crime”, adding that Bogota was just a “lackey of United States imperialism”.

“We demand condemnation of the Colombian government for this aberrant act,” said Mr Chavez, indicating that he would limit trade and investment with Colombia.

Thankfully, the war has been solely of words to this point (and I suspect that it will continue to be such).

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  1. And Greg Weeks looked at the appropriate documents on that one here []
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Filed under: Latin America | |

6 Comments

  1. It’s been a long time since I was in Columbia and a lot has changed since then; the neighbor (Chavez) and our own military posturing (pre-9/11, even our conventional forces spent a lot of time training to fight the FARC in Columbia) towards the region, as well as Uribe’s ability to conjure greater popular opposition to the FARC, which I’m sure has played no small part in some of his recent successes fighting them. It would not surprise me at all if Chavez had supported the FARC, but even if that were true, unless FARC activities have changed radically in nature since 1999, genocide seems like a poor choice in vocabulary to describe Venezuelan actvity. Chavez certainly shouldn’t be funding the FARC’s insurgency, but I think calling the FARC’s activities genocidal is a real stretch.

    That said - Columbia does need to stay within its boundaries in fighting the FARC - but the neighbors need to stop sheltering, funding, and otherwise assisting FARC parties.

    To be fair - on a tactical level - those things are easier said than done. Even if Ecuador and Venezuela were activiely policing their borders for FARC insurgents (which they were not doing at all in the late 90’s, I’m not sure what the tactical situation is now,) we’re talking about borders that are covered in some places with triple canopy jungle. You pretty much have to be standing on someone’s head to see them. We took blackhawk helicopters down there in 1999 and 2000 and discovered that aerial recon is next to useless. It reminded me a lot of my father’s stories about Vietnam.

    Hopefully this will remain a war of words and things will cool down soon. What concerns me is the possibility that this is a deliberate strategy that the FARC is employing to try and draw Columbia into open war with its neighbors. If that’s the case, they are going to hang around the borders and dangle high-value targets there in an attempt to draw Uribe into further cross-border raids.

    Comment by Captain D. — Thursday, March 6, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  2. First off, I really have to call you on this: it’s ColOmbia :)

    I am willing to bet that that Ecuadorans were unaware of the FARC encampment in question, although it has been known for years that the FARC has incurred into both Ecuador and Venezuela, but not because they were being harbored. In the Ven case it is has been speculated for some time that Chavez has at least turned a blind eye, or perhaps has aided the FARC at times–which is clearly a serious problem.

    Still, I seriously doubt there will be any interstate war over any of this, as really I can’t see what it was gain any of the parties involved.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, March 6, 2008 @ 7:44 pm

  3. I’m glad that the Colombian army went in and destroyed the FARC base killing Raul Reyes. Lets’ not forget Mr. Reyes is a killer and a committed terrorist.

    For years the FARC have been conducting raids kidnapping and killing and then finding shelter in Ecuador and Venezuela.

    I despise Chavez more than ever for using this to steer attention away from his ineffective government that can’t even feed its own people. However I must admit Chavez is using this to isolate Colombia and he’s doing it well.

    Colombia has the right to hunt down terrorists even if it means having to go into another country to do so. Lets’ be honest Ecuador and Venezuela are turning a blind eye after all they are left leaning counties and the FARC find them to be friendly governments. If Israel has the right to defend itself than any other country has the right as well.

    Comment by Andres M. — Thursday, March 6, 2008 @ 10:50 pm

  4. Well - that’s how you know I was an American soldier - I can’t spell the names of the places I’ve been.

    In fairness to myself, I’ve been in the company of Jack Daniels and G.L. Pease for most of the evening and am not sure I could spell my own name if asked. . .

    Comment by Captain D. — Thursday, March 6, 2008 @ 11:24 pm

  5. Also, Dr. T - I didn’t mean to try to come off as knowing very well what the situation is in Columbia today. I do not watch South American politics the way you do and 1999 was a long time ago. I don’t think Ecuador would actively shelter FARC, but I think they could do more to police their border, as the FARC has been using the contested border areas as a safe haven for quite some time and, at least in the late 90’s, Ecuador was clearly making no effort to prevent that. That is the area I am geographically and tactically familiar with. I am unfamiliar with the Venezuelan border, but am reasonably confident that Chavez’s Venezuela is also not doing much to prevent the use of its border as a safe haven by the FARC, even if it is not actively harboring them.

    I agree that open war is an unlikely scenario in any event, as there always seems to be a lot more bravado and bluster than action, but just wanted to throw the theory out there that the FARC might be trying to force one.

    Mainly, I question the charge of genocide - the FARC is a lot of nasty things, but genocidal?

    Comment by Captain D. — Thursday, March 6, 2008 @ 11:42 pm

  6. The spelling thing is personal pet peeve ;)

    And I didn’t take your comments as anything other than part of an ongoing discussion.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Friday, March 7, 2008 @ 7:06 am

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