The Guardian 12 March, 2008

Latin American peace
versus US warmongering

A meeting of the 20-member Rio Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, ended on Friday March 7, with an apology from Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe for the cross-border attack on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by its military forces and the acceptance of that apology by Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa. The two presidents shook hands. Apart from Colombia, the heads of government in their contributions, without exception, condemned Colombia’s violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty, demanded respect for international law and advocated a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Tensions were raised on the continent following the illegal incursion of air and ground Colombian forces into Ecuador late in the night of March 1. Around 21 FARC members were murdered in cold blood. Those who were not killed by the overhead bombings were finished off by ground forces.

Those assassinated include Commandant Raúl Reyes, a leading member of FARC’s secretariat. Reyes was well known and highly respected as a spokesperson for FARC and played a leading role in negotiating a humanitarian exchange of prisoners. He gave his life to the aims of constructing a new, truly sovereign and democratic Colombia based on the self-emancipation of both the peasantry and the working class.

The attack itself was a deliberate act of provocation. FARC had only just unilaterally released four prisoners as a gesture demonstrating its genuineness in pursuing a peace for Colombia. Neither Colombia nor its backer, the US were interested in a peaceful or democratic resolution to the struggle in the country. At the time of his assassination Reyes was involved in negotiations with the French authorities for the release of ex-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. She has dual French and Colombian citizenship.

The outcome of the Rio Group was not an easy achievement but no doubt it was helped by the absence of the US who is not a member of the Group. The degree of unity and determination to prevent war and resolve differences by peaceful means will give participants greater strength to defend their independence and sovereignty and oppose war. Colombia of course remains a puppet of the United States. US imperialism cannot be happy with the outcomes and will not cease its political and military operations in pursuit of global domination.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez played an important role, calm, convincing, persuasive and full of arguments in favour of regional peace and integration. In addition to his apology, Uribe gave up his intention to accuse Venezuela’s President of alleged links with the FARC before the International Criminal Court and committed himself to not attacking any other country for security reasons again.

The 31-member Organisation of American States (OAS) met last week and reached consensus (including Colombia) around a resolution which acknowledged that "on the morning of Saturday, March 1, 2008, military forces and police personnel of Colombia entered the territory of Ecuador, in the province of Sucumbíos, without the express consent of the government of Ecuador to carry out an operation against members of an irregular group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia who were clandestinely encamped on the Ecuadorian side of the border".

The statement reaffirmed "the principle that the territory of a state is inviolable and may not be the object, even temporarily, of military occupation or of other measures of force taken by another State, directly or indirectly, on any grounds whatsoever". The US is a member of the OAS. Cuba is but is excluded from meetings.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza is to select four ambassadors to form a commission to visit Colombia and Ecuador report to a meeting of its foreign ministers on March 17.

* The Rio Group is made of Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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