The Guardian 5 March, 2008

Do Colombia and the US
want war in South America?

"This could be the start of a war in South America", Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez warned after Colombian military forces massacred members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) inside Ecuador. President Chávez called the Colombian government a "terrorist state" whose military had "invaded Ecuador, [and] flagrantly violated Ecuador’s sovereignty".

In the early hours of Sunday morning, March 2, the Colombian military bombed a FARC camp as its occupants were sleeping, killing 17 including commandant Raul Reyes, a leading member of FARC. Just days before the attack, FARC had demonstrated its good will and genuine desire to negotiate a peaceful solution to the armed conflict in Colombia by unilaterally releasing four prisoners to Venezuelan officials.

It is FARC’s second unilateral release of prisoners this year, despite Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s refusal to negotiate with FARC.

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has severed relations with Colombia. He said that Colombia’s military had invaded Ecuadoran airspace and entered to carry away Reyes’ body.

Chávez said that the Colombian military "are guided from the Pentagon". The US provides the Uribe government with regular satellite intelligence and communications intercepts form surveillance planes as wells as millions of dollars for its military and police.

"There are, therefore, numerous parallels with Israel. First, the tactic of high-tech, long-distance assassination of high-profile leaders. Second, the killing of dozens of others around as ‘collateral damage’. Third, the use of such assassinations to undermine the possibilities for dialogue and negotiated solutions.

"In this case, as with so much else in the region, the target is Venezuela and the objective is to escalate to a regional conflict — or, rather, an intensification and internationalisation of the military conflict that is happening in Colombia", Justin Podur pointed out in ZNet Commentary.

The people of Colombia, the majority peasants, are brutally repressed by the state forces and US-backed and Uribe-supported paramilitary. In the last decade more than four million people have been displaced, more than 35,000 people have disappeared and more than 10,000 bodies have been found. More than 2,570 peasant and trade union leaders have been murdered, thousands have been arbitrarily detained.

FARC is not a terrorist organisation. It is fighting for the liberation of the people and Colombia itself from the "Empire" (as Latin Americans refer to the US) in the most difficult and dangerous conditions imaginable.

Ecuador and Venezuela are strengthening their forces on the border with Colombia, fearing further incursions. The US administration has made numerous attempts to get rid of Chávez including a coup, assassination plans and massive funds for opposition forces. At stake for the US corporations are the large oil reserves in Venezuela, and in Ecuador there is the threat of having to close its military base there. Politically, both Ecuador and Venezuela provide a dangerous threat to US imperialism, as they are taking independent political paths, and not bowing to the dictate of the Empire. Venezuela in particular provides support to many of the progressive developments taking place on the continent.

Last Sunday’s massacre, not only served to murder one of FARC’s leaders but it also can be used to argue that the Ecuadorean government is sheltering terrorists. Colombia has made such accusations about Venezuela as well as Ecuador and is now accusing Chávez and Corrrea of funding FARC. Colombia is the means by which the Bush administration is orchestrating a pretext to move forces into Venezuela and Ecuador and have the Correa and Chávez governments replaced by puppets.

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