|03-02-2008, 03:28 PM||#1|
Lost In Space
Join Date: Apr 2004
Peaceful relations my ass
Chavez sends tanks to Colombia border in dispute By Saul Hudson
1 hour, 1 minute ago
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez moved tanks to the Colombian border and mobilized fighter jets on Sunday, warning Bogota could spark a war after its troops struck inside another of its neighbors, Ecuador.
Reacting to Colombia's killing on Saturday of a Colombian rebel inside Ecuador, a Venezuelan ally, Chavez also ordered the withdrawal of all his diplomats from Bogota in the worst dispute between the neighbors since he came to office in 1999.
"Mr. Defense Minister, move me 10 battalions to the frontier with Colombia immediately, tank battalions," Chavez said on his weekly TV show.
"The air force should mobilize. We do not want war. But we are not going to let them ... come and divide and weaken us."
Colombia's military said on Saturday troops killed Raul Reyes, a leader of Marxist FARC rebels, during an attack on a jungle camp in Ecuador in a severe blow to Latin America's oldest guerrilla insurgency. The operation included air strikes and fighting with rebels across the frontier.
Chavez, who had warned a similar operation in Venezuela would be "cause for war," said on Sunday he would send Russian-made fighter jets into U.S. ally Colombia if its troops struck inside his OPEC country.
Colombia denied it failed to respect Ecuador's sovereignty and said Saturday's operation was a response to fire from across the border.
"Colombia has not violated any sovereignty, only acted in accordance with the principal of legitimate defense," the government said in a statement.
"The terrorists, among them Raul Reyes, were used to killing in Colombia and invading the neighboring countries to hide. Many times Colombia has suffered these situations, which we are obliged to avoid to defend our citizens," it said.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has often jousted with neighbors over spillover from its four-decade conflict but has managed differences with pragmatism. Now the dispute among the conservative Colombian and his leftist counterparts has gone from aggressive words to action.
Uribe has complained before that FARC guerrillas take refuge in frontier areas, though neighbors say his troops are not doing enough to prevent violent spillover from the conflict.
The leftist anti-U.S. Chavez has been in a diplomatic dispute with his ideological opposite, Uribe, for months because of the Venezuelan's mediation with FARC rebels over their hostages. Uribe has accused Chavez of using the mediation to meddle in Colombian affairs.
On Sunday, Chavez accused Uribe of lying over the details of the operation that killed the rebel in Ecuador, where the leftist government of President Rafael Correa is a close Venezuelan ally. He called it a "cowardly assassination" of a "good revolutionary."
"I am putting Venezuela on alert and we will support Ecuador in any situation," Chavez said
ECUADOR WITHDRAWS AMBASSADOR
Ecuador has withdrawn its ambassador to Colombia in protest and also questioned if Uribe lied when he initially explained to his southern neighbor that the strike was in response to fire from rebels across the border against Colombian troops.
"He (Uribe) is a criminal. Not only is he a liar, a Mafia boss, a paramilitary who leads a narco-government, and leads a government that is a lackey of the United States ... he leads a band of criminals from his palace," Chavez said.
Colombia's government had no immediate reaction to Chavez' troop movements and comments on Sunday, although Uribe has in the past called for prudence in diplomatic disputes.
Chavez, a Cuba ally, sees himself as a leader of Latin America's left and says right-wing Uribe is an obstacle to uniting South America.
Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue thinktank in Washington and a critic of Chavez, said the Venezuelan was playing with fire even if the spat could distract from his domestic problems such as chronic shortages of some foods.
"There is a risk here as he reacts strongly and often overreacts, but this could backfire on him," Shifter said. "This is not going to achieve what he wants in terms of regional politics ... It maybe is a measure of how concerned he is about his own domestic support."
"I don't know how far he is going to go with this but it is a risky political action," he added.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Rondon in Caracas and Patrick Markey in Bogota; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
|03-03-2008, 08:48 AM||#2|
Join Date: Apr 2001
, i see all nations use euphemisms. We have "contractors", etc, they have "peaceful" tanks.