[Marxism] As Chavez warms up to Colombia, Ecuador refuses to mend ties

Greg McDonald sabocat59 at mac.com
Mon Jul 14 09:04:34 MDT 2008


Posted on Sun, Jul. 13, 2008
As Chávez warms up to Colombia, Ecuador refuses to mend ties
BY CHRIS KRAUL AND MERY MOGOLLON

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa angrily declined Saturday to  
follow the example of his ally on the South American left, Venezuelan  
leader Hugo Chávez, in mending tattered relations with Colombia.

''Our sovereignty has been trampled on, and we have been  
disrespected,'' Correa said during his Saturday radio show in  
Ecuador's capital, Quito. He had no interest in restoring normal ties  
with Colombia, led by conservative President Alvaro Uribe, until  
there was a government, he said, ``worthy of talking to.''

Relations between the neighbors have been strained since Colombia  
mounted an attack in Ecuadorean territory in March that killed  
leftist Colombian rebel leader Raul Reyes. Ecuador and Venezuela  
rushed troops to their borders with Colombia, sparking the region's  
worst crisis in years.

After the raid, Colombia claimed that electronic files recovered from  
Reyes' computers indicated that Chávez was aiding the rebels and  
allowing the insurgents to use western Venezuela as a haven. Chávez  
denied the allegations.

Chávez and Uribe met Friday in the western Venezuelan refining town  
of Paraguana and, in Chavez's words, ''turned the page'' on poor  
relations.

Chavez said he also would like Uribe's help in fighting drug  
trafficking. Uribe proposed a new railroad to connect the two countries.

Diplomatic problems are in neither Chávez's nor Uribe's interest.

For Uribe, Colombian trade with Venezuela is too important to risk.  
''Political difficulties shouldn't be confused with the nation's  
needs,'' Uribe adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria told the Bogota newspaper  
El Tiempo.

Chávez's allies face local and state elections in November, and polls  
show that most Venezuelans don't like his stated admiration for  
Colombia's largest rebel group, known by its Spanish acronym FARC.

More than one million Colombians live in Venezuela, many of them  
registered to vote.

Chávez recently called on the FARC to release the 700 or more  
hostages it still holds, a sign he is softening his support of the  
rebels.

Chávez said he would try during a visit to Ecuador this week to  
persuade Correa to seek a rapprochement with Uribe.

But Correa said Saturday that he was having no part of it, that he  
had taken offense at Colombia's portrayal of his country as an  
''accomplice and staging area'' for the FARC.

Los Angeles Times staff writer Kraul reported from Bogota and special  
correspondent Mogollon from Caracas, Venezuela.




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