VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA: Colombia’s president, Álvaro Uribe, demanded on Tuesday that charges be pressed against Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, in the international criminal court. Uribe claims Chavez has strong links with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which Bogotá and the United States classify as a terrorist group. This is the latest in an escalating regional conflict following Colombia’s raid on FARC rebel camps inside Ecuador on Saturday, killing a senior commander. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said that the cross-border operation was a violation of national sovereignty. Ecuador and Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with Bogotá on Monday and began deploying troops along their borders with Colombia. According to Real News analyst Pepe Escobar, this standoff is just the latest in an ongoing tug-of-war between US-backed Álvaro Uribe and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
PEPE ESCOBAR, THE REAL NEWS ANALYST: Is there a war going on in South America? Well, not really. What we have, problems that are extremely typical of the realignment in South America post-9/11. Colombia is supported by the Bush administration. Álvaro Uribe is an extreme right- winger, but he’s very popular in Colombia, especially in urban areas, not exactly in the countryside, where FARC is still very much supported. Uribe invaded Ecuador to kill a few FARC guerrillas, including number two, Raúl Reyes. This in terms of international law, this was a violation of sovereignty. In fact, people in South America, they are comparing it to Colombia pulling a Israel. But the thing is Ecuador’s not Gaza. Ecuador is an important South American country. And its borders and its sovereignty was violated by the incursion by Uribe. All our sources here in South America agree that basically Uribe went too far. And he created two very powerful neighbors in both his borders. He already had a very rocky relationship with Venezuela’s Chavez. Now he made an enemy of Rafael Correa in Ecuador in the southern border. Brazil was stepping in to try to mediate the whole situation. Lula is meeting Correa at the request of Correa to mediate between Ecuador and Colombia without involving Hugo Chavez directly. Anyone following the current Colombia-Ecuador–extremely sensitive situation in South America–through the eyes of US corporate media might be excused to think that Hugo Chavez is the aggressor. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is still part of the demonization of Chavez campaign. Actually, it was Álvaro Uribe from Colombia who invaded the sovereign territory of Ecuador to chase FARC guerrillas inside Ecuadorian territory. This is a violation of international law. And each and every Latin American country is against the actions of Colombia, and they are demanding an official pardon from the Colombian government. It’s not going to happen. The thing is, the US, the Pentagon trains and funds armed forces in Colombia. Plan Colombia, which was supposed to eradicate drugs, wasted billions and billions of dollars of US taxpayer money for absolutely nothing. And the whole US strategy, Bush administration strategy in South America for that matter, there’s only one term to describe it: counterterrorism. So divide and rule nowadays means counterterrorism. Most Latin American or at least South American governments at the moment are different brands, different strengths of leftist governments. The Bush administration, in its obsession post-9/11 with terrorism, has divided some of these governments and some of the movements operating inside some of these countries into allies or terrorists. So FARC, for instance, is branded as terrorist. Of course, The Pentagon can help the Colombian government to bomb and to exterminate FARC. There won’t be a solution for Colombia’s troubles, a military solution. FARC is also social movement. FARC and Uribe don’t have to sit down at the table and negotiate. Colombia doesn’t, Uribe’s government doesn’t want that. The Pentagon, Bush administration don’t want that. So expect this to continue for a long, long time. So we’re going to have, for instance, FARC, that is al-Qaeda. So let’s go there and smash them. And the new—this guy over here, Saddam Hussein, is Hugo Chavez. As for Álvaro Uribe, it’s very simple: he’s that, simply a puppet.
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