News From the Other America: Colombia In Crisis

Melissa Sanchez

As Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa seeks the backing of other Latin American leaders, (he plans to stop in Managua Thursday), the Organization of American States reaffirms today that Colombia violated its neighbor country’s sovereignty by killing a FARC leader there this weekend.

The conflict has been called the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years, as Venezuela mobilizes military forces to its Colombian border in support of Ecuador. Colombian President Álvaro Uribe claims his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez is sponsoring genocide by allegedly harboring FARC terrorists; Chávez calls Colombia the Israel of South America at Washington’s command. (If that’s the case, Guardian blogger Matthew Weaver asks, does that make Venezuela the region’s Iran?)

While plenty of Western media tend to portray Chávez as a threat to the region, a story from the folks at is refreshing. They call Colombia a destabilizing force in South America, saying the attack was planned to deter Colombians from participating in an international protest planned for tomorrow against those tortured, murdered or disappeared by the government and paramilitary forces there.

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs speculates on U.S. involvement in the affair, as Saturday’s incident seemed to be “carried out at too sophisticated a level by a Colombian military which normally is dismissed as incompetent, corrupt, drug sodden and ill-deposed to risk dangers. The COHA article also discusses the U.S. presidential candidates’ rhetoric on Latin America.

Meanwhile, the Washington Office on Latin America recently reported that the U.S.-sponsored intensive aerial herbicide spraying on coca crops in Colombia has”backfired badly,” and contributes to the spread of its cultivation to new areas of the country. Washington has poured more than $5 billion since 2000 into the project.

In Nicaragua, friends tell me they’re placing bets on when Nicaragua will deploy troops in solidarity with its brother countries, Ecuador and Venezuela.