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March 8, 2008
S. American Leaders Resolve Crisis by R. Moran
The leaders of 4 South American countries who seemed on the verge of war have pulled back from teh abyss and, with a bland apology from Colombia, have resolved the crisis peacefully:
The dispute erupted after Colombian forces crossed into Ecuador last Saturday to kill Raúl Reyes, a senior commander of the FARC, and 23 others at the guerrillas’ camp in Ecuadorean territory. Chavez, who finances the Colombian terrorist rebels to the tune of around $300 million a year an Ecuador's President Correa who relies on FARC for political contributions and "ballot security" both sent troops to the borders with Colombia threatening war unless an apology was forthcoming. In the end, President Uribe of Colombia issued an acceptable statement of regret and the crisis was over.
Ecuador and its leftist allies Nicaragua and Venezuela reacted by cutting diplomatic ties with Colombia, a Bush administration ally.
The resolution of the dispute was spelled out in a bland document criticizing Colombia’s foray into Ecuador while recognizing the need to combat illegal armed groups in the region. But images were broadcast throughout the region of Mr. Uribe, who apologized to Mr. Correa, embracing leaders with whom he exchanged barbs for days.
“Our government only wants peace,” said President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who this week had sent 10 tank battalions to Venezuela’s border with Colombia, called Mr. Uribe a mafia boss and threatened to nationalize Colombian companies in Venezuela.
The easing of the crisis came as Colombia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that a senior commander of the FARC was killed this week by one of his own men.
It was a partial victory for Chavez but at the same time, damaging information came to light about his involvement with FARC that leaves him open to scathing criticism as well as retaliation from Colombia.