Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Crisis in the Andes -

Colombia is doing the right thing.......... Thanks president Uribe.
vdebate reporter
Crisis in the Andes
March 4, 2008
The death of a Colombian terrorist like Raul Reyes should be a moment ofrelief for the Western Hemisphere. The State Department had placed a $5million bounty on the head of this second-ranking member of theRevolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Western Hemisphere'sworst narco-terrorist organization.
Instead, Reyes' killing has tipped off an international crisis. Venezuela's sabre-rattling President Hugo Chavez has sent tanks and an estimated 6,000 troops to the Colombianborder, threatening war on the pretext that Colombia's March 1 raid tokill Reyes violated the sovereignty of neighboring Chavez ally Ecuador.
That is rich.Violate Ecuadorean sovereignty Colombia surely did: Bogota's airplanes soared into Ecuadorean airspace as helicopters parachuted troops acrossthe porous border to kill Reyes and 16 other FARC terrorists enjoyingsafe harbor in Ecuador.
But this follows years of Mr. Chavez and his Ecuadorean allies helping the FARC as it terrorizes Colombia withcross-border raids and kidnappings. We won't likely hear much aboutVenezuela's and Ecuador's long record of what amounts to proxy warfareagainst Colombia. Mr. Chavez is busily attempting to portray the strikeas unprovoked, when, in reality, both Ecuador and Venezuela have longrecords of covert and in some cases not-so-covert hostility via theirfriends the FARC. They, not Bogota, made this weekend's airstrikeinevitable.
The FARC, an internationally designated terrorist organization andnarco-trafficking syndicate, has terrorized Colombia for more than fourdecades. Its cafe bombings, abductions, airplane hijackings and pitchedassaults on Colombian cities have been responsible for tens of thousandsof deaths. Over the decades, the FARC has transformed itself from aclassic Latin American Communist insurgency into a major conduit ofinternational terrorism and contraband with ties to the Irish RepublicanArmy, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.
Lately, underthe skillful hand of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, much progress has been made against the FARC. Government assaults have shrunk the group'ssouthern jungle statelet with the help of more than $5 billion in U.S.military aid since 2000. Mr. Chavez detests this progress. If anything, Bogota had shown too much forebearance of its neighbors'FARC support.
That both Ecuador and Venezuela harbor the FARC as itassaults Colombian targets is not seriously disputed. Even so, last yearColombia allowed Mr. Chavez to attempt to mediate between the governmentand the terrorists (he failed).
Lately, Mr. Chavez has taken to theairwaves in a fruitless bid to legitimize the FARC with the argumentthat it is an "insurgent" group, not a terrorist organization. Tell thatto the families of the 119 civilians killed in the FARC's 2002 mortaringof a church, the three American missionaries murdered by FARC thugs in1999, or the victims of the FARC's indiscriminate gas-cylinder warfare.
Beleaguered Bogota's "crime" is simply to stop tolerating safe harborand terror-abettment. Mr. Chavez and his ally President Rafael Correa of Ecuador just watched the elimination of one of their primary means of harming Colombia.
No wonder the strongman of Caracas is upset.

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