Wednesday, 5 March 2008

US/Colombia hands off Venezuela and Ecuador!

Act now to stop war in Latin America

What only a few days ago seemed like a remote prospect has suddenly become a real possibility. The Colombian military’s brutal massacre of 21 (at last count) guerrillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – Peoples Army (FARC-EP), including Raul Reyes, the FARC’s chief negotiator and spokesperson, in Ecuador on March 1 marks a dramatic leap in the United States’ plan to potentially trigger off an armed confrontation between Colombia and Venezuela.

These events should be of major concern for all supporters of the Venezuelan revolution, and anti-war and peace activists the world over.

On March 1, in violation of all international treaties regarding defence of national sovereignty, the Colombian government of President Alvaro Uribe bombed Ecuadorian territory to assassinate of Reyes and the other FARC guerrillas. The governments of Ecuador and Venezuela responded by mobilising troops to their respective borders with Colombia, stating their willingness to defend their national sovereignty at all costs. Both countries broke diplomatic ties with the Colombian regime and announced that they would seek an international condemnation of its action.

The Colombian government has attempted to justify its actions as part of the fight against “terrorism”. But this is just the latest in a string of lies the Colombian government made in order to keep face. Its first lie was claiming that it never violated Ecuadorian sovereignty. Then the lie that its actions were a response to FARC attacks was exposed as images emerged of the murdered guerrillas in their pyjamas.

Following these unjustifiable actions and, subsequently, a weak “apology” to Ecuador, the Colombian government has tried to claim the existence of documents, obtained from three laptops that “miraculously” survived the bombing, that link Ecuador and Venezuela to the “terrorism” of the FARC. Both Ecuador and Venezuela have denounced the claims as “absolute lies.”

Judging by the quality of the claims made in these documents, (in which the FARC seem to have discussed highly sensitive information without using any form of code), it appears that what were found were the same laptops that provided the “information” about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

All this is a smokescreen for the real aim - part of a plan drawn up in Washington and being enacted by its puppets in Colombia. The Colombian government has revealed that it had the coordinates of Reyes’ whereabouts for several weeks, including while he was in Colombian territory, yet it chose to act while he was in Ecuador. Moreover, the bombing was carried out only days after Venezuela, with Ecuador’s support, led a successful international mission to receive the unilateral handover of four FARC prisoners, the success of which gave hope to many that peaceful solution to the conflict in Colombia was possible.

Despite the brutal attack on them, the FARC guerrillas have declared their willingness to continue with the process of releasing prisoners as part of trying to reach a political solution.

The longer term aim of the Colombian government’s most recent attack is to establish a precedent for violating the sovereignty of other countries so it can carry out military actions outside its borders as part of its supposed war on “terrorism”. In other words, it wants to establish itself as the Israel of Latin America, with support from Washington to carry out further such actions.

More immediately, the Colombian regime, which receives more US military funding than any other country in the region, is attempting to end the humanitarian accord being promoted by the FARC and to provoke a conflict with Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, has played a central role in efforts to achieve peace in Colombia. Colombia has suffered from six decades of brutal state-sponsored terrorism, including from infamous right-wing death squads linked to the military. Hundreds of trade unionists and other activists are assassinated in Colombia each year. A humanitarian accord would force Colombia’s elite to dismantle this terror apparatus.

Washington too fears a political solution to Colombia’s internal war which provides a pretext for the militarisation of the region through Plan Colombia and now Plan Patriot. Any moves towards peace put into question the role of the US, which has pushed a policy of violence and conflict that, after decades, has achieved worse than nothing.

Frightened by the powerful alternative provided by the pro-people, pro-peace policies of the revolutionary government of Venezuela – an alternative that is inspiring millions of people around the world and strengthening Latin American integration - the US and Colombian regimes are escalating their policy of war to try to derail Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. Alongside their military provocation, their lies about Venezuela being a “gateway for narco-trafficking” and involved in “aiding terrorism” are aimed at justifying any attack on Venezuela as a “necessary” part of the US’s so-called war on terror.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) joins with the overwhelming majority Latin American governments in condemning Colombia’s actions. We support the actions taken by Venezuela and Ecuador to defend their national sovereignty. We applaud their dignified stance in breaking relations with Colombia, and demand that the Australian government do the same.

Without peace and justice in Colombia, there can be no peace for revolutionary Venezuela. That is why the AVSN is actively supporting the March 6 international day of action called by the families of victims of state and paramilitary violence in Colombia, and urges all people who support a peaceful, political solution to the Colombian conflict and Venezuela’s right to self-determination to join us.

US, Colombia hands off Venezuela and Latin America!

A statement from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

March 5, 2008

1 comment:

Red Wombat said...

A letter from Latin America which the Wombats have received, and deserves reproduction:


On Saturday, March 1 Colombia's Air Force carried out a military operation in Ecuador, killing more than 20 people and violating the sovereignty of its western neighbor nation. Friends in South America call on your solidarity and support in resistance to this violent act of imperialist militirism by Colombia as well as proclaiming our utter intolerance of United States´ interference in the region.


We ask you to rapidly mobilize your networks to have a presence or to contact the nearest Colombian Embassy> or Consulate on THURSDAY MARCH 6th, for solidarity actions across the globe.

There will be marches throughout Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Initially organized as mobilizations against paramilitarism and parapoliticals in the armed conflict in Colombia and in support of an end to the war and a release of hostages on both side, there is now solidarity needed around the globe for those marching as today, March 3rd, the general Óscar Naranjo, Director of Colombia´s National Police signalled that information found on Raul Reyes´computer insinuated the marches on Thursday as being initiated by the FARC therefore making all of us on the streets that day international terrorists!

The Colombian government has yet to publicly recognize its serious breech of international sovereignty laws with its military invasion of Ecuador mimicking its milkmaid, the United States government, in ignoring or loosely legitimizing its imperialist war acts around the world. However, most Latin American countries have denounced the severity of Colombia´s actions and called for investigations and action.

WHEREVER YOU ARE IN THE WORLD WE CALL ON YOU to Join us in the South on Thursday March 6 in demanding peace and an end to the conflict in Colombia-- WITHOUT United States intervention attempting to destabilize the oil rich region!

Suggested Talking Points for solidarity actions-see below for more

* We are here today to demand that the Colombian government publicly recognize that its March 1 military action in Ecuador violated international sovereignty laws
* The US State Departments´s planning and involvement in the killing in Ecuador of Raul Reyes and at least 20 others violates international sovereignty laws as well as causes regional destabilization that could lead to many more deaths and war.
* We demand fair coverage from the media on this issue reminding them that Venezuela, and its President Hugo Chaves, is not the aggresor in this conflict
* We recognize that this attack is the continuation and escalation of an on-going war in Colombia that has persisted for 40 years due to US military funding and training of Armed Forces in Colombia.

For more information and talking points please see article below containing more links:

____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ __

This only touches the surface, but it is a resource that can be adapted and used. Feel free to edit, change, take, distribute any of the below info.

CARACAS- On Saturday, March 1 Colombia's Air Force carried out a military operation in Ecuador, violating the sovereignty of its western neighbor nation.The bombing resulted in at least 17 deaths. One of the people reported to be among the victims is Raúl Reyes,> commander and spokesperson for the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), as well as the only contact for France to Ingrid Betancourt. This attack is the continuation and escalation of an on-going war in Colombia that has persisted for 40 years due to US military funding and training of Armed Forces in Colombia
The United States has a long history of intervention in Latin America, ranging from military occupations, financial support for the overthrow of democratically elected presidents and economic sabotage to military trainings of state and private death squads In Colombia, the United States has taken particular interest in the oil, land, water, and agricultural resources as well as the ports and profitable cocaine trade, and more recently Colombia's strategic location in relation to Venezuela and Ecuador.

The United States supported and funded a coup attempt in April 2002 in Venezuela, temporarily taking democratically elected President Hugo Chávez out of power. While Venezuela has continued to sell oil to the United States, Chávez has taken a pro-sovereignty stance, demanding that the United States not intervene in their national politics. The Bush Administration has made a series of aggressive statements towards Venezuela , working to support the political opposition that launched the coup attempt and is now engaged in tactics of economic sabotage with the aims of destabilizing the Venezuelan economy. In addition to rich natural resources, Venezuela is offering an alternative to the US-led neo-liberal development model by proposing a "Socialism of the 21st Century."> The Unites States government uses its military power, technology, and wealth to threaten and to impose its culture, politics, and economies on other nations. When those nations resist, they are branded as terrorists, enemies or communists. Since September 11, 2003 the US government has used "the war on terrorism" to advance their aims of acquiring more oil, land and resources.

With the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan rising every day, and a complicit media, which is forbidden by law to show the coffins of US soldiers who were killed in Iraq, the US people have become desensitized to the death of those labeled as terrorists. The US is employing its classic logic; that in the hunt for "terrorists" there are no rules. They have imposed this ideology onto Colombians for many years, fueling an internal civil war, and providing the military funding and training necessary to target the FARC, the ELN, and to terrorize the Colombian people. Colombia's civil war plays a destabilizing force within the entire region and with the recent attack of Ecuador, that process has been escalated rapidly. It is important to emphasize that Colombia has violated Ecuador's national sovereignty and has for all intents and purposes brought its war to Ecuador. In response Ecuador has withdrawn its ambassador from Colombia> and Venezuela has sent tanks to the border. Not surprisingly, a Raul Reyes´computer was found at the scene of the massacre in Ecuador by Colombian military and has been conviniently found to contain letters of evidence incriminating venezuelan and ecuadorian governments of exchanging information, arms, money, drugs, and even uranium with the FARC.

While bombing another sovereign nation is standard behavior for the US government, this military operation conducted by the Colombian army is an unprecedented demonstration of its imperialist tendencies as the state accedes to Washington´s strategies, and marks a calculated escalation of tensions within the region. There is no doubt that the military operation carried out from the U.S. military base of Tres Esquinas, located in the Putumayo region of southwestern Colombia, was strategically carried out after the release of 4 FARC-held hostages made possible with the help of President Chavez, and a now known plan to release 12 hostages> to Ecuador including Ingrid Bentancourt and three US contractors, in a desperate measure to continue the unnecessary militarization of the political conflict.

Each discontent expressed by the US government towards the Chávez Administration> is armed with the threat of invasion. While many people that I know in the US simply role their eyes at another nauseating comment from Bush; here, they prepare for invasion. Even within the anti-war movement, many people could not fathom the US being involved in further military operations, as the Armed Forces are currently over-stretched in their wars and occupations in the Middle East. For some time now, many analysts have suggested that US interventionism in Venezuela would come by means of Colombia; a state that has been led by pro-US regimes to protect US interests for resources. This seemed like a practical way for the US to play a destabilizing role without having to send US Forces, but instead send US trained Colombian Forces; both state and private paramilitary.

Chávez has also faced the bind of a huge, mostly unguarded Western border with Colombia, in which the FARC, the Armed Forces, and paramilitaries have crossed into Venezuela, bringing their internal conflict to Venezuela's doo Chávez has condemned the violence in Colombia, and its pouring onto Venezuelan soil. Based on Colombia's attack of Ecuador, Chávez has sent tanks to protect its border with Colombia. Let us not forget that in the United States there are Troops at the US-Mexico border, and not because the United States is responding to a Military Attack, but because the US government and media has attempted to equate immigration with terrorism

While the US projects its "war on terror" towards the immigration community within its borders, it extends the war throughout the world, in an attempt to justify its military actions for more land, resources, and power. With the recent tensions that Exxon-Mobile has created in Venezuela, by claiming rights to an inflated amount of funds from Venezuela's state oil company and furthermore, initiating various international lawsuits, resulting in the freezing of $300 million of PDVSA's assets, US-Venezuelan relations have become even more tense. This action taken by US company Exxon-Mobil
is a further escalation against Venezuela; representing not only the militaristic but the economic tactics used in an effort to discredit and destabilize Venezuela.

Now, while Colombia has attacked Ecuador, provoking a collapse in diplomatic relations and placing the region at risk of a war, the headlines in the United States read: "Chávez sends forces to Colombia's border."
This is a calculated attempt to create the image of Venezuela as the aggressor in the conflict, when the clear aggressor is the United States, who trains and funds the Colombian Army, not only in counter-insurgency and terror but now as an imperialist army, who has violated the sovereignty of its neighbor nation and created grave tensions within the region. The US government cannot pretend to be an objective observer in this conflict.