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Vol. 72/No. 11      March 17, 2008

Colombian military attacks Ecuador
The Colombian military carried out an air strike against Ecuador March 1. In response, the governments of Ecuador and Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with Colombia and mobilized troops to their borders.

“We are a small country, but we will defend our sovereignty to the last,” Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa said March 5, while touring Brazil to win diplomatic support. Most governments in Latin America have condemned the Colombian attack as a violation of Ecuador’s territory.

The government of Colombia, one of Washington’s closest allies in the region, says the strike was directed against a camp of the anti-government guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Raul Reyes, who Bogota alleges was the FARC’s second-in-command, was killed in the strike, making this the most senior FARC casualty in 40 years of fighting.

Colombian president Alvaro Uribe has accused Correa and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez of supporting the FARC, a charge both governments deny.

“Is it possible that something like what happened in Ecuador could happen here?” asked Venezuelan General Jesus Gonzalez at a March 5 press conference. “The answer is simply yes.”

Colombia’s army is more than twice the size of the Venezuelan and Ecuadoran armies combined. Bogota has received $600 million a year since 2001 in military aid from Washington, and U.S. troops are stationed in Colombia as “trainers.”

According to Reuters, most of Venezuela’s fleet of F-16s is not operational after Washington banned sales of spare parts and upgrades to Caracas.

Colombian officials say Washington provided them with intelligence to locate Reyes.  
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