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2008 Andean diplomatic crisis

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The 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis'was a diplomatic stand-off between Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela beginning with an incursion into Ecuador territory across the Putumayo River by the Colombian military on March 1, 2008, which led to the death of over twenty militants, including Raul Reyes (nom-de-guerre of Luis Edgar Devia Silva) and sixteen other members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The incursion led to increased tensions between Colombia and Ecuador, as well as the movement of Venezuelan and Ecuadorian troops to their respective borders. The crisis was ended at a Rio Group summit on 7 March 2008, with a public reconciliation between all parties.Juan Feraro, "Latin American Crisis Resolved", Washington Post'', March 8, 2008.


In 2007, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba were acting as authorised mediators in the ongoing Humanitarian Exchange between the FARC and the government of Colombia. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe had given Chavez permission to mediate, under the conditions that all meetings with the FARC would take place in Venezuela and that Chavez would not contact members of the Colombian military directly, but instead go through proper diplomatic channels. However, President Uribe abruptly terminated Chavez's mediation efforts on November 22, 2007, after Chavez personally contacted General Mario Montoya Uribe, the Commander of the Colombian National Army. In response, Chavez said that he was still willing to mediate, but had withdrawn Venezuela's ambassador to Colombia and placed Colombian-Venezuelan relations "in a freezer". He also called Uribe a "liar and a cynic".

President Uribe responded that Colombia needed "mediation against terrorism, not for Chavez to legitimise terrorism," that Chavez was not interested in peace in Colombia, and that Chavez was building an expansionist project on the continent. From January to February 2008, FARC released six hostages "as a gesture of goodwill" toward Chavez, who had brokered the deal and sent Venezuelan helicopters with Red Cross logos into the Colombian jungle to pick up the freed hostages.

Incursion of the Colombian military into Ecuador

In the week before the incursion, it was revealed that the Colombian government, with assistance from the United States' FBI and DEA, had wiretapped several satellite phones that were used by FARC forces in Southern Colombia. According to an unnamed Colombian military source, an international call made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Raul Reyes on one of these phones was intercepted by authorities on February 27. The source claimed that Chavez called Reyes to inform him that the release of three FARC hostages held captive for almost 7 years had been completed, and the intercepted call was then used to track Reyes to a location in Colombia, near the Ecuadorian border.

Colombian troop movements from Cali to the border area began on February 29. On March 1, 2008 at 00:25 local time (0525 UTC), Colombia launched a military operation, 1.8 kilometers into Ecuador.

Colombian intelligence reports indicated that Raul Reyes was expected to stay near Angostura, Ecuador, for the night of February 29, 2008. On and after February 27, several members of FARC 48th Front were captured by Colombian security forces near the Ecuadorian border, taking away some support from the main group. During the subsequent operation, the Colombian Air Force stormed Angostura, followed by a Colombian special forces group and members of the Colombian National Police.

According to Colombian authorities, the guerrillas responded to the initial bombardment from a position in the vicinity of Santa Rosa de Yanamaru, on the Ecuadorian side of the border, killing Colombian soldier Carlos Hernandez. A second bombardment was then carried out, resulting in the deaths of Raul Reyes and at least 20 more FARC members. Two bodies, several documents and three laptops found in the guerrilla camp were returned to Colombia.

This was the first time the Colombian military had killed a member of FARC's leadership council in combat. After the operation, Colombian authorities increased security measures nationwide fearing FARC retaliation.

According to the Ecuadorian government, the attack happened inside its territory, lacked its permission, and was a planned strike, intended to be followed by the incursion of Colombian troops by helicopter. It pointed out that the attack had left a total of more than 20 guerrillas and others dead in Ecuadorian territory, many of them found wearing underwear or sleeping clothes.Stephen Lendman Spinning the News - The FARC-EP Files, Venezuela and Interpol - Global Research, May 19, 2008 Ecuador's government concluded that the attack was a "massacre" and not the result of combat or "hot pursuit". Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa estimated that the war planes penetrated 10 km into Ecuador's territory and struck the guerrilla camp while flying north, followed by troops in helicopters who completed the killings. He noted that some of the bodies had been found to be shot from behind.

Ecuadorian authorities found three wounded women in the camp, including a Mexican student identified as Lucia Andrea Morett Alvarez. Lucia Morett claimed she was visiting the guerrilla group as part of an academic investigation, refusing to answer other questions about her time among them. Regarding the attack on the camp, she has stated: "I was asleep when we received a first aerial attack. Two or three hours later we were attacked again". Ecuador was investigating together with Mexico whether Mexicans were killed during the raid. According to the director of the Ecuadorian military hospital which treated the three women, they had received some sort of medical attention from both the attacking Colombian forces and the Ecuadorian soldiers who found them later.

Diplomatic developments

Colombia's violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty led to increased tensions between Colombia and most other South American states.

On Saturday, March 1, Alvaro Uribe said a few hours after the operation that "today we have taken another step against terrorism, which does not respect borders" and added that he took full responsibility for the operation.

Uribe also spoke by telephone with his Ecuadorian counterpart, Rafael Correa, early that morning, to inform him of the incident.

In a press conference that evening, Correa rejected the incident as "aggression" against Ecuador, calling the result a "," claiming that the rebels had been killed in their sleep using "advanced technology," and also said that he was summoning his ambassador in Colombia for consultations.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez called the attack "a cowardly murder" and reacted by closing his country's embassy in Colombia and moving troops to positions near Venezuela's border with Colombia.

On Sunday, March 2, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa announced that a diplomatic note would be sent in protest at the incursion, saying that the action had been a violation of Ecuador's airspace. Ecuador also formally recalled its ambassador from Colombia, and expelled the Colombian ambassador from Quito.

The Colombian government announced that it would not mobilise any troops in response to Hugo Chavez's order to move 10 battalions towards the frontier and would not respond to the accusations made by Chavez on his weekly TV program. On Alo Presidente Chavez denounced President Uribe as "a liar" and "a lackey of North-American Imperialism," claimed that Colombia was seeking to become "the Latin American equivalent of Israel," and compared Colombia's actions with Israeli Defense Force strikes on Palestinian militants.

Colombian foreign minister Fernando Araujo Perdomo apologized to Ecuador for "the action that we were forced to take in the border zone". He added that Colombia had "never had the intention or disposition to be disrespectful of, or to violate the sovereignty or integrity of the sister republic of Ecuador".

The Colombian foreign ministry affirmed, however, that Raul Reyes "directed, for many years, criminal operations in the southern part of our country, covertly, from Ecuadorian territory, without the approval of its government". Colombia said that it was ready "to compensate any Ecuadorian citizens that could have been affected".

The Colombian National Police also held a press conference, at which it revealed a series of documents taken from the guerillas, which allegedly implicated both Venezuela and Ecuador in FARC activities.

FARC has kidnapped hundreds of people, including democratically-elected officials and candidates, and it seeks to exchange some 40 hostages for 500 guerilla members held in Colombian prisons. A FARC spokesmen announced that Raul Reyes's death "should not affect the search for a humanitarian agreement on the exchange of kidnapped people." He added that "We encourage revolutionary firmness, not to forego any effort that supports a humanitarian exchange, and to continue in our intentions for peace and construction of an effective democracy, with social justice." Colombian officials replied that kidnapping does not encourage peace, and kidnapping democratically-elected officials does not encourage democracy.

On March 3, a statement from Venezuela's foreign ministry announced the decision to expel Colombia's ambassador and all diplomatic staff at the Colombian embassy in Caracas. Authorities in Venezuela also restricted traffic at two major border crossings, according to Isidoro Teres, president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for the Tachira State border town of Urena.

The same day, Ecuador's Foreign Ministry issued a statement alluding to its cutting off of diplomatic ties with Colombia. It said that President Correa had initially ordered protection for a Colombian patrol surrounded by 200 FARC elements while Ecuadorian forces were attempting to verify events on the border, but that the Colombian forces had been "trying to buy time" to return to Colombia after attacking the FARC camp. The Ecuadorian government stated it had intercepted communications showing this and that the Colombian forces knew they had entered Ecuador.

Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos said that the operation of Colombian troops could have been avoided had there been better cooperation from Quito. "If we had real collaboration from Ecuador in pursuing these groups, these situations wouldn't occur, but we've never had it. They always have taken the position that they do not want to interfere in the Colombian conflict," said Santos.

At a press conference on March 4, President Uribe announced that Colombia intended to bring charges against Hugo Chavez with the International Criminal Court, for funding terrorism and genocide. Later that day, Venezuela's Minister For Land And Agriculture, Elias Jaua, told state broadcaster VTV that Venezuela was closing its border with Colombia. On March 5, President Chavez called the Colombian raid a "war crime," and joined Ecuador's president Rafael Correa in demanding international condemnation of the cross-border attack.

In a ten-hour emergency meeting on the afternoon March 4, of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, Ecuador urged the OAS to condemn Colombia's violation of its territorial integrity. Colombia, in response, insisted that the hemispheric body should instead roundly condemn terrorism and its funding. Due to disagreements regarding content, the Council was unable to produce a final declaration on the matter. It did, however, agree to reconvene on March 5 to continue the debate, to convene a meeting of consultation of the member states' foreign ministers on March 17, and to set up a commission to investigate the incident.

In Brazil, on a five-nation tour to drum up support for his country's position, President Correa said Ecuador would re-establish diplomatic relations with Colombia only "in the very improbable circumstance" of that country offering an unrestricted apology, assuring that no similar incidents would take place in the future, and retracting its allegations of ties between Quito and the FARC. He also emphasised that had any Ecuadorians died in the attack, "we would already be at war."

On Wednesday, March 5, Colombian authorities reiterated their commitment to maintaining peace in the region, announcing that none of its troops would be deployed near its borders.

On 6 March, the OAS criticised, but did not go so far as to condemn, the Colombian incursion into Ecuador. The OAS resolution called on Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza to form a commission to investigate the incident on both sides of the border, as well as to help resolve the diplomatic crisis.

Later that day, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, which was already in a territorial dispute with Colombia over San Andres and Providencia, announced the breaking of diplomatic relations with Colombia. Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez threatened to nationalise Colombian assets in Venezuela, saying, "We're not interested in Colombian investments here."

On March 7, at a Rio Group summit held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the presidents of Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua publicly shook hands, in a show of good will. The handshakes, broadcast live throughout Latin America, appeared to be a signal that the period of military buildups and diplomatic repercussions was over. After the summit, Ortega said he would re-establish diplomatic ties with Colombia.

Venezuelan and Ecuadorian troop movements

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez moved troops to near the border with Colombia, warning that a Colombian incursion into Venezuela would be a "cause for war". Chavez announced that he had put the Venezuelan military on high alert, pledging Venezuela would "back Ecuador in whatever circumstance".

Ecuador also ordered troops to its borders.

The Colombian government announced it would not mobilize any troops in response to Hugo Chavez's order to move 10 battalions towards their common border.

Allegations about FARC relationships with Ecuador and Venezuela from seized documents

On the afternoon of March 2, 2008, in a short press release, General Oscar Naranjo, director of the Colombian National Police, as spokesperson of the Colombian government, announced that during the military operation in the Colombia-Ecuador border several documents and three laptops were retrieved along with the bodies of Raul Reyes and one of his lieutenants. Copies of 13 documents were provided by Gen. Naranjo to reporters on March 4.

The first set of documents contains a letter from Reyes to the high command of FARC explaining that he had recently held meetings with the Security Minister of Ecuador, Gustavo Larrea, representing President Correa, with the intention of "establishing formal relations with the FARC". In the letter Reyes transmits the following information to the high command: the intention of the Ecuadorian government to replace police forces that do not accept the presence of the guerrilla organization in the area; the request for the release of a hostage, "perhaps the son of professor Moncayo or someone else who may increase political action"; and the decision of Ecuador to annul next year's license for the use of Manta Air Base by the United States.

Ecuador's Interior Minister Fernando Bustamante dismissed the allegations as "false". He stated that "We are not going to accept such a thing". He added "It is very easy to say something based on evidence that has not been scrutinised publicly or internationally."

The next day another set of documents, which allegedly indicate a relationship between FARC and Venezuela, was released. According to Naranjo, the documents suggest Chavez gave the FARC guerrillas US$300 million and is assisting the organization to obtain of uranium. Oscar Naranjo also said there was evidence Hugo Chavez had received 100 million pesos when he was a jailed rebel leader . Some of the documents along with photographs obtained from Reyes' computer were transmitted to the press. The rest of the documents still have not been released. Vice president of Colombia Francisco Santos stated at a disarmament forum in Geneva that FARC was planning to build a "dirty bomb" although he presented no evidence to back up his affirmations. A message to Reyes seems to indicate that the motive was to sell the uranium for a profit.

A letter from FARC supremo Manuel Marulanda to the Venezuelan President was released on March 4. In this letter Marulanda thanks the Venezuelan Government for its assistance in the war against the Colombian Government and Alvaro Uribe presidency, supported by the United States. FARC also offered their "modest knowledge in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution" in case of "a gringo aggression," understood as assistance against a possible military action from the United States.

Venezuelan Interior minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin denied the accusations and stated that "They say that they find in that computer a letter from Marulanda to our commander in chief. Everybody already knows (the letters), the ones showed by our commander in chief. Pay attention, Venezuelan and Colombian people, how they manage the manipulation and deception, that kind of santanderist technique and now with fascism". Rodriguez Chacin also stated that months ago, Venezuelan authorities seized another computer from the deceased narcotrafficker Wilson Varela, which in turn implicated Colombian police and General Oscar Naranjo in drug trafficking. "I deduce links of consanguinity and business between that general and that mafia capo to not reveal important information. Juan David Naranjo was one of his links and adjutants, brother of General Oscar Naranjo Trujillo." said Rodriguez Chacin. He added he had not made public the documents before "because of ethics". The affair that involved General Naranjo's brother in drug trafficking was widely known since May 2006, when Naranjo himself announced it to the press.

The Colombian government stated that it would present the documents to the Organization of American States (OAS) to demonstrate that Venezuela and Ecuador are supporting the FARC, and thereby "violating international law against the harboring of terrorists". President Uribe stated that "our UN ambassador will announce that Colombia intends to denounce Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela (to the International Criminal Court), for sponsoring and financing people that commit genocide".

On March 3, Ecuadorian security minister Gustavo Larrea admitted having met with FARC, without specifying where. Later that day, Ecuador's government announced it was in "very advanced talks" with FARC, seeking to free 12 hostages including Ingrid Betancourt. According to President Rafael Correa, the effort was thwarted by Colombia's military operation. The Colombian government rejected this argument, arguing that the captured computer documents revealed Ecuador to be engaging in "hostage trafficking for political means" and political gain, by suggesting it would rotate military personnel in the border and allow FARC to operate more freely.

On March 4, Colombian newsweekly Revista Semana published the second of two special editions following the death of FARC's Raul Reyes, presenting some of the documents said to be found in the computers seized by the Colombian government. The documents include several letters between FARC commanders and the Secretariat, describing:

September 22, 2007: a clandestine meeting between "a member or a emissary of the Secretariat" and the President of Venezuela in Caracas in a letter from "JE" to the Secretariat.

April 8, 2007: "Daniel" in a letter to members of the Secretariat Joaquin Gomez and Fabian Ramirez about a meeting with an associate of drug lord "Chupeta" with "high acquisitive power" to carry out an exchange of FARC drugs for missiles. According to the document, Chupeta had "contacts" in Lebanon and his organization would handle the transport with two options: via Europe or via Mexico.

October 4, 2007: Ivan Marquez informs that he has sustained a meeting with Rodriguez Chacin on which the Commanders meeting is going to be held in Venezuela , with security enforced by Venezuelan military forces and organised by Rodriguez Chacin, "expert on this kind of issues". If it is celebrated, "President Chavez would be accompanied by Presidents Ortega, Morales and Correa, which are patria o muerte." The meeting between Chavez and Marulanda is still a issue.

October 8, 2007: details about secret meetings between Rodriguez Chacin and the FARC, dealing with the request for a proof of life for Ingrid. "He would be thankful if we send a record with the voice of the Colombian-French lady praising the intervention of him (Chavez) and Piedad.

December 23, 2007: mentions that, in reference to "300, later called dossier," "there are already formalities being advanced through instructions from the boss of the "cojo" (lame or cripple), which I (Ivan) will comment on in another note. We will call the boss Angel, and the "cojo," Ernesto". The document also discusses the procedure for the release of two hostages in February 2008. It also refers to a request from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Chavez, asking Marulanda to receive his emissary Noe, who FARC believes to be from French intelligence. Chavez asked for the liberation of Ingrid, to which FARC responded: "we (FARC) said that if we release her, we would run out of cards".

January 14, 2008: a statement from "Jorge," saying that the "dossier" should be "directed collectively," with "tact, a cool head, ability and responsibility," also asking "who, where, how and when can we receive and keep the dollars?". The document also mentions the need to "determine what materials we need, amounts, prices, transports, routes, places for loading and unloading, sellers, buyers, business forms and technicians," adding that "if they donate merchandise to us it should be useful and adequate for guerrilla irregularity".

January 18, 2008: the meeting with Ecuadorian Security Minister Gustavo Larrea and the request for the release of Moncayo's son or something that dynamised the political duty of the mandatory.

February 8, 2008: a message from "Ivan and Ricardo" to "Comrade Manuel" and the Secretariat, which informs of a meeting with "Angel," who had read a letter from Manuel and would send a reply, adding that "he (Angel) has already readied the first 50 and has a time frame for completing up to 200 during the year". The document mentions possible business deals regarding the commercialization of a petroleum quota, or the sale of gasoline in Colombia, as well as "taking from the dossier, the creation of a profitable investment company in Venezuela". The document also mentions that President Chavez is willing to receive 47 guerrilla prisoners and 500 jailed guerrillas in his territory, and that he plans to create a sort of "Contadora Group," seeking to promote peace negotiations and the recognition of the FARC as a belligerent force. If they agreed to his proposal, Chavez said it would negate any negative impact from the February 4 "manipulated march" against the FARC, and he would be willing to promote "counter-marches" for peace and the exchange in several countries.

February 16, 2008: the deal for 50 kg of uranium, which is going to be sold at 2.5 million USD per kG.

On March 6, 2008 Viktor Bout, a ex-KGB agent turned weapons dealer was arrested in a luxury hotel in Thailand during a raid staged by US DEA agents and carried out by Thai police forces. He is accused of supplying weapons to several militias in Asia, the Middle East and the Colombian terrorist group FARC. Sources in Spain claim that his arrest was enabled by information in the captured computers, but this was contradicted by sources in Colombia.

The Colombian Administrative Department of Security (DAS) reported it has asked for Interpol's technical support in order to decipher the seized FARC computers. According to DAS, Interpol has accepted the request and is sending several experts to Colombia.

The final report was presented in May 15. Interpol's report said that it found no evidence that the Colombian Government had manipulated the laptops. President Hugo Chavez dismissed Interpol's findings as "A show of clowns, ridiculous" given by a "gringo, aggressive, corrupt and vagabond policeman," about which "spending time on is not worthwhile." and threatened to revise both economic and diplomatic relations with Colombia.

During Interpol's press conference, the Secretary General described the following: "the eight seized computer exhibits contained more than 600 gigabytes of data, including: 37,872 written documents, 452 spreadsheets, 210,888 images, 22,481 web pages, 7,989 email addresses,10,537 multimedia files (sound and video), and 983 encrypted files. In non-technical terms, this volume of data would correspond to 39.5 million filled pages in Microsoft Word and, if all of the seized data were in Word format, it would take more than 1,000 years to read at a rate of 100 pages per day."

On June 15, 2008 Interpol issued a new press release in response to a statement by Ecuador's Foreign Ministry that the international organization considered to be incorrect. The press release stated that "[Ecuador] inaccurately suggests that Interpol had not established whether the eight seized exhibits forensically examined by Interpol's computer forensic experts had been recovered by Colombian authorities on 1 March 2008 from a FARC camp or belonged to Raul Reyes. In fact, based on a review of all the information and material provided by Colombia, including a classified oral briefing, Interpol was able to satisfy itself, and clearly stated in its report, that the seized computer exhibits it was requested to forensically examine were taken from the FARC terrorist camp on 1 March 2008 and belonged to Raul Reyes." Interpol also added "that validating the contents of the computer exhibits were not manipulated after their seizure by Colombian authorities is not in any way, shape or form the same as saying that the contents of the user files are true and accurate. Interpol therefore objects to those who suggest that Interpol's report validates the source and accuracy of any particular document or user file contained therein."

The data included personal pictures of Raul Reyes and the terrorist camp that was bombed in the attack. According to Colombian officials, the information contained in the laptops not only corroborated some of their previous suspicions but has also led to several important discoveries about FARC's inner activities and their entire international network. The information described the way in which the FARC leadership dealt with several crimes, including the deaths in captivity of the 11 Norte del Valle deputies and their ties with notable drug dealers and Colombian politicians.

It led to the discovery of FARC funds related to Rodrigo Granda hidden in Costa Rica and to the capture of Rosario Garcia Albert, a Spanish woman who is believed to be the representative of the guerrilla in the European peninsula. On March 25, 2008 Colombian intellingence discovered 30 kilograms of impoverished Uranium that, according to officials, corroborates the alleged deal mentioned on Reyes' computers. Some important Colombian figures, including Liberal oposition senator Piedad Cordoba, are currently under prosecussion by the authorities for incriminating emails found on these laptops. A chilean government official offered his resignation after being tied with some documents found on the computers. The information related to the inner workings of the organization and its structural and communications challenges was used to give the FARC its biggest blow, the intelligence operation which led to the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt and three American contractors on July 2008.

During the diplomatic crisis caused by the 2008 unrest in Bolivia, the United States government froze the assets of several senior members of the Venezuelan Government: ex-Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin , senior DISIP director Henry de Jesus Rangel military intelligence chief Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, accusing them of "arming, supporting and financing" the FARC and their "killing of innocents" , according to the information discovered on Reyes' computers.

International reaction

Communities and organizations

Organization of American States' Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza noted the "seriousness of the situation" and emphasised "dialogue as the sole mechanism of negotiation". He also expressed his hope that the emergency meeting of the OAS Permanent Council called for March 4 would enable a "peaceful solution to this crisis". On 6 March, an OAS resolution stated that the Colombian incursion was a violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty, stopping short of condemning the Colombian government for the operation.

United Nations: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the tensions and called for restraint on all sides.

European Union: Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, asked Alvaro Uribe to remain "calm, contained and moderate in his messages." Uribe contacted the EU's head diplomat to expose to him the details surrounding the crisis. Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderon met with Solana in Brussels on March 5.


Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana said the country would lodge a protest of the Colombian incursion at an emergency meeting of the OAS and that Argentina was working to coordinate positions with other countries in the region.

Foreign Minister Celso Amorim condemned Colombia's violation of Ecuador's territory as "very serious" and asked it to offer a "more explicit apology" to "help contain the crisis." Brazil had previously said it would help resolve the conflict, which "is beginning to destabilise regional relations" according to Marco Aurelio Garcia, foreign policy advisor to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Garcia told CBN radio that "we are mobilizing all of Brazil's diplomatic resources and those of other South American capitals to find a lasting solution."

President Evo Morales said the two nations' conflict could seriously affect the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) consolidation process. Morales also said he had called a special meeting of the Unasur Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss the Colombia-Ecuador diplomatic crisis on the sidelines of a Rio Group meeting in the Dominican Republic on Thursday.

President Michelle Bachelet demanded an explanation from Colombia on why its troops entered Ecuador, adding that "The most important thing today is that we can avoid an escalation of this conflict."

Former President Fidel Castro, writing in the Communist Party newspaper Granma, blamed the United States for the dispute, saying it was a consequence of "genocidal plans of the Yankee empire."

president Felipe Calderon spoke to both Correa and Uribe on Sunday, March 2, and offered his government's support for any efforts they might undertake for the prompt normalization of relations. On March 6, Calderon criticised Colombia's raid saying they reject "any action that constitutes a violation of territorial sovereignty."

President Daniel Ortega condemned the killing of Reyes, saying that president Alvaro Uribe had "killed the possibilities for peace in Colombia." On 6 March 2008, Nicaragua also broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia, following its ally Ecuador. "Nicaragua cuts ties with Colombia", BBC News, 6 March 2008. Ortega stated, "We are not breaking relations with the Colombian people. We are breaking relations with the terrorist policy practiced by Alvaro Uribe's government".

President Alan Garcia condemned the violation of Ecuador's sovereignty, saying that it was "unacceptable", and called for the Organization of American States to set up guidelines for anti-terror measures.

Vice President Ram Sardjoe stated that their government had good relations with Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador and that they considered this as an internal matter of the three countries. He added that if possible circumstances would happen, they were willing to assist the countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations released a statement on March 3, 2008 that urged the three countries to set talks in order to solve the disagreements, and not to take further actions that might worsen the situation.

Supported Colombia's position, criticised Chavez and asked for a diplomatic solution while offering assistance to Colombia in case of military action and urged Congress for FTA approval. The major candidates in the November 2008 presidential election also supported Colombia. US Southern Command downplayed the possibility of an armed confrontation between Colombia and Venezuela or Colombia and Ecuador.


Ambassador in Argentina, Rafael Eldad, in response to the Venezuelan president's claim that Colombia was becoming "the Latin American equivalent of Israel", said that Hugo Chavez was "introducing the culture of hatred into Latin America" and called for messages of peace and calm for the region.


Called for restraint on all sides and continued negotiations on freeing FARC hostages. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner stated that the killing of Raul Reyes was "bad news", because of his role as France's contact to obtain the release of Ingrid Betancourt. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Colombian news channel RCN TV that he had asked Manuel Marulanda "Tirofijo", the main FARC leader, to release hostage Ingrid Betancourt. Otherwise, if she died the revolutionary group would never be taken off the international terrorist lists.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos expressed his concern over the diplomatic crisis and called on all parties to remain "calm and to resolve their differences through dialogue and diplomacy, neighbourly cooperation and good faith".

Social response

On March 16, 2008 Colombian artist Juanes organised a free concert on the Colombia-Venezuela border as a response to the crisis. The event called Peace without borders had a message of peace and brotherhood between the three nations. The concert gathered thousands of people from both sides of the border. The concert featured the singers Miguel Bose, Alejandro Sanz, Juan Luis Guerra, Juan Fernando Velasco, Ricardo Montaner, Carlos Vives and Juanes himself.

See also

Humanitarian exchange

Colombia-Venezuela relations

Colombia-Ecuador relations

Ecuador-Venezuela relations

Operation Emmanuel

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