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March 2, 2008 9:40 PM   Subscribe

A high ranking FARC leader, Paul Reyes, was killed during a Columbian raid into Ecuador. Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, responded and ordered ten battalions to the Columbian border, threatening a key regional ally of the United States. Some think it is just more bluster by Chavez. Meanwhile Air Force 2 is in Aruba; which is just 18 miles off the coast. Also Exxon-Mobil was recently cut off from Venezuela's oil.
posted by humanfont (50 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh man. Oh man. Oh man. Talk about a neocon's wet dream. If only Bush and company could leverage enough outrage to make Columbia look like Kuwait to Venezuela's Iraq.
posted by wfrgms at 9:46 PM on March 2, 2008


Venezuela's state oil company said Tuesday that it has stopped selling crude to Exxon Mobil Corp. in response to the U.S. oil company's drive to use the courts to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.

So exxon sues the Venezuelan government to the tune of $12 billion and expected to continue doing business with them?

I find it odd that you could sue a Venezuelan company in the UK over something that happened in Venezuela as the result of Venezuelan law.

Anyway, oil boycotts don't make that much sense, because Exxon can still buy oil on the market from other places, they'd just have to pay a slight markup, I imagine.
posted by delmoi at 9:47 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


• Ecuador's Hugo Chavez?

• "In numerous Ecuadorian public reactions to the Chavez proposals the common denominator is one of caution and of concern for the preservation of Ecuadorian national sovereignty."

• "A symbol of sovereignty is to not have foreign soldiers on national soil"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:55 PM on March 2, 2008


I dont see the big deal. Chavez is working with Farc to release hostages. Colombia knows this, said fuck it, and performed an offensive. Chavez gets angry and rattles his sabre.

Exxon sued Venezuela for a few billion dollars, lost, and now no longer can do business with them.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:11 PM on March 2, 2008


I find it odd that you could sue a Venezuelan company in the UK over something that happened in Venezuela as the result of Venezuelan law.

I find it odd that the money-grubbing of a wannabe dictator is referred to as "law." Granted, I'm not really crying for the poor defenseless oil companies. I'd very much rather they and Chavez ate each other.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:35 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why not Krrrlson? When our money-grubbing wannabe dictator decided to do spy one each and every one of us that's the nomenclature our justice department used.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:25 PM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh man. Oh man. Oh man. Talk about a neocon's wet dream.

Meh. Talk about any warpig's wet dream, left or right. Burn, baby, burn...that's what it's all about, isn't it? You can quote Ann Coulter or you can quote Noam Chomsky, it's all the same fucking thing: the hope that there will be some fucking war that will change things once and for all. Different politics, same sentiment.

Anyway, the US marched into Iraq, and nothing happened. The world goes on. A Pakistani pol is assassinated, and nothing happens. The Israelis total Lebanon. Big fucking deal. The planet is still spinning. Oil is still pumping. A lot of bombast, maybe a few machine guns go off, and Chavez (the bastard) is out of office real soon, a memory. Hah.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:29 PM on March 2, 2008


I vote "bluster". Chavez certainly has taken an odd position here and squandered much of the goodwill generated by his hostage efforts. (It's entirely possible, of course, that the Reyes raid -- assassination seems a bit too precise a term here -- would have terminated any more releases anyway.) He's moving tanks, while Ecuador -- the country on whose soil the raid took place -- is just sending strongly worded diplomatic messages. Does he really think there's going to be an Ecuador-Colombia war in which he can join? Much of the Venezuelan ability to have any kind of relationship with Colombia depended on them being able to say they weren't directly supporting FARC, even when FARC used Venezuelan soil to hide. Hey, we looked where the light was better and didn't find them!

Anyway, I don't think there's anyone here actually hungering for a regional war. It's sort of a dumb issue to have one over. Countries that shelter rebel leaders can't expect territorial sovereignty.
posted by dhartung at 11:49 PM on March 2, 2008


while Ecuador -- the country on whose soil the raid took place -- is just sending strongly worded diplomatic messages.

Actually, several hours ago President Correa of Ecuador withdrew Ecuador's ambassador to Colombia and ordered troops to the Columbian border.
posted by RichardP at 12:00 AM on March 3, 2008


I would like to see FARC have a war with Shiites.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:37 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Documents show deepening relations between Ecuador's government and FARC.
Meanwhile Ecuador inaugurates Venezuelan oil rig.
posted by adamvasco at 12:48 AM on March 3, 2008


Jesus, get Cheney the fuck away from there. He's liable to goad Uribe into a Tonkin-style "he hit me first!" escalation. Chavez is being a moron by leaving that opening.


You can quote Ann Coulter or you can quote Noam Chomsky, it's all the same fucking thing


Not a close reader of Chomsky, but I thought his basic point is that we do war because it's easier for the US to outgun someone than it is for us to out-diplomacy them. Which is more than slightly different from Coulter's rabid venom-spitting.


Anyway, the US marched into Iraq, and nothing happened.

I thought the comedy writers were back at their real jobs now.
posted by trondant at 1:13 AM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


You can quote Ann Coulter or you can quote Noam Chomsky, it's all the same fucking thing: the hope that there will be some fucking war that will change things once and for all.

this is almost too dumb to respond to, but for the record: chomsky is a pacifist and has dedicated his life to stopping wars. coulter is a ghoul who cheerleads for the powerful over the powerless. the fact that you could falsely equate them says you need to read more.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:39 AM on March 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


Countries that shelter rebel leaders can't expect territorial sovereignty.

Really? Who defines who is a rebel? The sitting government of the country in question? In that case, I guess that means that in recent years the US has been in line for an invasion by a list of countries comprising most of Latin America and Cuba, not to mention a chunk of the Middle East and probably a bit of Africa.

Or is it only the US and their friends that get to call rebel?
posted by Jakey at 2:12 AM on March 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


KokuRyu . you may believe nothilng changes or happens but each incident has consequencves. Fopr sure the world doesn't suddenly all get together and make a huge statement and a change. Bujt there are followups for most incidents if you track the situation over a course of months and years. Do you think the GOP (:examp;le) is going to remain in power in the US in the next few years after Iraq?
posted by Postroad at 4:15 AM on March 3, 2008


oh FARC, not FARK...

for a moment I was concerned....

and...

"Anyway, the US marched into Iraq, and nothing happened."

tell that to the dead....and their families
posted by HuronBob at 4:19 AM on March 3, 2008


"Anyway, the US marched into Iraq, and nothing happened."

That's not true, obviously, I thought KokoRyu's point was that the US marched into Iraq, and the anticipated great and glorious spread of democracy throughout the benighted Middle East somehow never happened.

KokuRyu's point, as I understood it, was that people love to advocate war to hasten the utopia and/or Armageddon they see lurking right around the corner, but things aren't really like that. You could say the same thing about 9/11-- not that it was pointless and meaningless to everyone everywhere, but it didn't permanently alter day-to-day life.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:29 AM on March 3, 2008


Colombia / Colombian.
posted by signal at 5:29 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


My point being, other than simple fastidiousness, that if you're going to try to sound as if you understand the first thing about Latin American politics, you should probably try to spell the names of the countries right.
posted by signal at 5:35 AM on March 3, 2008


Spanish radio is reporting that Reyes was one of the main contacts for President Sarkozy in his attempts to negotiate the release of Ingrid Betancourt.
posted by adamvasco at 6:07 AM on March 3, 2008


Hey, wait. Was Cheney in Aruba when Natalie disappeared?
posted by neat-o at 6:32 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


This subject is complicated by nature (a 50+ year internal conflict between a Government, guerrilla groups that originally had social motivations and later turned to drug-trafficking, paramilitary groups, the military participation of the world's most powerful country to establish military bases in the region) and you are only making it more complicating by throwing in the Exxon factor, which really has nothing to do with what has been happening since Saturday. If the focus of your FPP was how oil could reach the $150 p/barrel mark as a result of this, you could have contributed more information on the conflict with Exxon.

now, damn dirty ape, Exxon sued Venezuela, but hasn't lost. The matter hasn't even reach the courts yet, the thing is they requested, as a cautionary measure, that around 12billion dollars in assets of the Venezuelan state owned company were freezed, and they were only able to freeze around 300 million.

delmoi: the reason they can sue Venezuela in foreign courts is that those contracts had arbitration clauses that contemplated that possibility. The Venezuelan government here has been very emphatic that those contracts were signed before the current administration and that the contracts entered into by the current administration don't allow that possibility.

Krrrlson, c'mon. Even Chavez' detractors admit that the best thing that he has done for his country is raising oil royalties. You might not like him, and that's perfectly fine, but you are criticizing the only thing that everyone agrees that he has done right and writing it off as money grubbing.

signal: I agree with you. It may sound nitpicky, but spelling right the names of the countries that people give such high-flown opinions on is a minimum sign of respect.
posted by micayetoca at 7:30 AM on March 3, 2008


Oh, and I forgot to say. The international crisis that started on Saturday is about a country violating the airspace and sovereignty of another one. Colombia entered Ecuador's territory and bombed and possibly executed people there. I think the government of Ecuador took the best possible route: denouncing Colombia publicly and summoning the regional governments and organizations (the OAS and Mercosur) to "find ways to prevent the internationalization of Colombia's internal conflict."

This could be a fantastic opportunity to set a precedent for the better, otherwise, the precedent being set is that the Colombian government basically has the right to do as it pleases, where it pleases, when it pleases, which is particularly bad considering that the Colombian government is one of the parties to a conflict that has the second highest number of internally displaced people, and is responsible for numerous ongoing war crimes. The Colombian government clearly needs to be restrained and, again, this could be a great opportunity to start doing it.
posted by micayetoca at 7:41 AM on March 3, 2008


My wife's family is from Colombia. Their hometown is in a FARC controlled area. This means that my newborn daughter can't go visit her cousins, aunts, and uncles, because the kidnapping threat is very, very real for visiting Americans.

If Chavez can bring enough real pressure on Venezuela and the other countries in the region to finally get rid of FARC, then I'm all for it.

I would rather that it not turn into a full-scale regional war, but it may come to that.
posted by oddman at 7:50 AM on March 3, 2008


find ways to prevent the internationalization of Colombia's internal conflict

It's kinda late for that. Several years too late.
posted by aramaic at 7:55 AM on March 3, 2008


It is weird when someone has the same name as you. especially when he changed his name from Luis Edgar Devia Silva to your name.
posted by MNDZ at 7:58 AM on March 3, 2008


For a recent history of the FARC and the conflict in Colombia, let me suggest My Colombian War, by Silvana Paternostro.
posted by mert at 8:05 AM on March 3, 2008


Colombia / Colombian.

So, do they call us the United States or los Estados Unidos?
posted by adamdschneider at 8:06 AM on March 3, 2008


Columbia is not Colombia in English adamdschneider, so I don't your point think applies. And MNDZ, yeah, it is funny, but the pseudonym was Raul Reyes, not Paul Reyes.
posted by micayetoca at 8:10 AM on March 3, 2008


I've heard that before, and it doesn't sound like anything but a cop out to me. As a matter of fact, if we as English speakers decide the name Colombia becomes Columbia in English, then that is exactly what it becomes. It would be (and is, when it is used) an exonym. I don't see people falling over themselves to call Spain España or Germany Bundesrepublik Deutschland. I have to wonder. Do "Colombians" refer to France as France or Francia?
posted by adamdschneider at 8:47 AM on March 3, 2008


Right, but a handful of people who cannot spell a word in English (in this case Colombia, the name of the country that coincidentally is called Colombia in Spanish as well.) are hardly who are going to decide the name of the country.

If you try those three links with Morocco, you'll see that Morocco is the word in English for Maghreb (or Marruecos, in Spanish).

adam, with all due respect, before you keep trying to defend a spelling mistake as your right to decide the names of things that already have widely accepted names, please not that the pseudonym of the dead guerrilla leader was also misspelled. It was a mistake, it happens to everyone.
posted by micayetoca at 9:02 AM on March 3, 2008


Well adam, the English speaking government of the U.S. seems to think the name is COLOMBIA. Presumably they would be using the proper English name. That's probably good enough isn't it?
posted by oddman at 9:02 AM on March 3, 2008


And of course, where it says "please not" it should say "please note". I know it's lame to make a spelling mistake when pointing out the spelling mistakes of others, so let's call it a homage.
posted by micayetoca at 9:04 AM on March 3, 2008


As a matter of fact, if we as English speakers decide the name Colombia becomes Columbia in English, then that is exactly what it becomes.

Except this isn't an issue of a country's name being translated into another language, as in the case of United States/Estados Unidos. Calling Colombia "Columbia" is just a misnomer and an all-out mistake.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:10 AM on March 3, 2008


it doesn't sound like anything but a cop out to me. As a matter of fact, if we as English speakers decide the name Colombia becomes Columbia in English, then that is exactly what it becomes

We have decided no such thing. The word is spelled with an "o." Your argument has some merit with regard to pronunciation. But it doesn't apply here. Consult a dictionary.

The Nation had a terrific article recently about Chavez and the recent history of Venezuelan politics. (It's about domestic politics, I don't think that Colombia is mentioned).
posted by ibmcginty at 9:35 AM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can you clarify the adam who is upsetting you please. If you want to be upset by myself, I am sure I can oblige. Hey schneider: get your act together, you're giving me a bad name; OK.
posted by adamvasco at 9:35 AM on March 3, 2008


Hmm, maybe I am simply mistaken. I wasn't defending a spelling mistake, I was pretty sure that Columbia used to be an accepted (by us, obviously, not them) spelling. I can't really find any reference to this, though.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:37 AM on March 3, 2008


micayetoca helpfully points out how complicated the situation is. Just to further muddy the waters there is another train of thought that thinks that perhaps the Colombian government may not actually want Ingrid Betancourt released as she knows something unsavory about the present Colombian power structure.
posted by adamvasco at 9:49 AM on March 3, 2008


Sorry, vasco, not you. But, thanks for the offer. I'll mefi-mail you if I ever need to get upset at an Adam.
posted by oddman at 10:51 AM on March 3, 2008


Chavez has paid $300, Million to FARC
posted by adamvasco at 11:29 AM on March 3, 2008


Or, the Colombian government says Chavez has paid $300, Million to FARC, rather. I'm not defending Chávez, but in the time I've lived in Venezuela I've seen both Uribe and Chavez present "irrefutable evidence" of very serious actions of the other many different times.

Of course the evidence always emerges magically after a diplomatic crisis (and there have been a few: for instance Chavez says he personally delivered Uribe documents proving the plans that were being put together in Bogota to assassinate him, Uribe presented documents that proved the connections between Venezuelan government officials and the Farc after Colombia illegally detained Rodrigo Granda in Caracas) everything scales, and then everyone forgets about it. So yeah, let's wait and see what irrefutable evidence Caracas is going to show next.
posted by micayetoca at 11:50 AM on March 3, 2008


Or let me say with other words:

It's easy to consider Chavez and Uribe as opponents, two people with different ethics and different take on basically everything and nothing in common. Their constant spats could support this. But both have made it clear that they have every intention to pursue another re-election. Both have modified the constitutions of their countries to allow them to be re-elected, and both are pursuing more reforms that would allow them to be re-elected again.

Under this perspective, declaring a war, even a low intensity war between the two countries, would perhaps allow them both to invoke special circumstances and to remain in power. So yeah, whatever any of them accuses the other is irrelevant. Where this may lead is what is more interesting.

I want to add that I don't personally share that perspective, but it's a whole new angle that is not likely to be reflected in mainstream media, so there it is.
posted by micayetoca at 12:18 PM on March 3, 2008


Well, the reality is that Ecuador harbors, arms and funds guerrillas operating in Colombia. This in and of itself is cassus belli - under international law, Colombia has the right to defend herself. Carrying out a raid on Ecuador's sovereign soil is about the mildest way of doing so. Now, it seems in addition to moral support, Venezuela is providing material support to FARC, to the tune of 300 million.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Colombia hit Venezuela head on with US air support as the next step. Reducing a few billion dollars of expensive armor and aircraft to burning junk is a good way of saying, "Don't meddle in our affairs, and we won't meddle in yours."

Chavez is being exceptionally stupid, here - GWB would love to take him down a peg, and now Chavez has given the means, opportunity and motivation for Colombia to sexy up the Shrub for the next wargasm.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:30 AM on March 4, 2008


Bravo Slap*Happy.

"find ways to prevent the internationalization of Colombia's internal conflict."

The conflict stopped being internal when the Ecuatorian government sheltered FARC terrorists.
posted by falameufilho at 8:04 PM on March 5, 2008


You have to realize, falameufilho, that you are talking about large borders in very thick jungle. There is no way to "secure" those borders and make sure no one crosses to the other side and hides there.

I think that more than "sheltering" FARC terrorists, the Ecuadorian (again, not Ecuatorian) government is trying to deal with a complex situation that could deteriorate pretty fast, playing with words and saying they are being "harbored" is just the excuse of the Colombian government for what they did.

To begin with, this is Colombia's problem. Colombia should contain their guerrillas within their territory. The Ecuadorian government has complained publicly many times saying that Ecuador doesn't really share a border with Colombia, but with the FARC, as there is no presence of State force along the border in the Colombian side. So, it's kind of hypocritical from the Colombian government to abandon a large border portion of their territory, and then say that the country on the other side of the border is not taking matters responsibly.

The fact of the matter, leaving all wordplay aside, is that this is Colombia's internal conflict and that the Colombian government is acting very irresponsibly, to say the least.
posted by micayetoca at 4:15 AM on March 7, 2008


Sorry micayetoca; I'm calling you on this. Colombia should contain their guerrillas within their territory
If Colombia could "contain" FARC inside their national borders they would have solved the problem a long time ago. The thought that any country can contain guerillas inside their national borders is nonsensical considering what guerrilla warfare is.
Colombia has two unhelpful and destabilizing neighbours: Ecuadaor and Venezuela. Chavez is crazy as a loon. He would rather score political points and aclaim from fellow travellers by closing his borders and depriving his countrymen of cheap food supplies; large amounts of which are imported from Colombia.
I do not condone the US state sponsored terrorism carried out by Colombian forces. However the relevations coming out from the supposedly captured hard disks certainly throw some light on some unsavory relationships.
posted by adamvasco at 10:58 AM on March 7, 2008


Colombian Rebels' Ties to Chávez Come Into Focus
Computer Files Found In Raid Detail Efforts To Gain Arms & Money.
I'm listening to the live broadcast of the Rio Group summit in Santo Domingo as I type this. It always amazes me that national leaders can be so full of shit so much of the time. Its all mostly postering bullshit. and irrelevance. Its a great pity none of these people ever seem to be interviewed by reporters who want to get beyond the rhetoric and sound bites and into detail. Chavez even started singing! He threatens war with his neighbour one day and starts signing the next at an international meeting of heads of state! El es mas loca que una cabra y mucho mas peligroso.
posted by adamvasco at 12:13 PM on March 7, 2008


You are absolutely right on the guerrillas point. And I'll like to add something to it that it's because of the very nature of guerrilla warfare that those camps were in Ecuador. Uribe's accusations seem rather frail and random to me.

I followed the entire broadcast of the summit (it was shown live on TV here). During the past two weeks I've seen Chávez and Uribe exchange the harshest accusations and now everything ended in a handshake. As it always does with them. And there's two things I'd like to highlight: you seem to take every accusation presented by the Colombian government as actual evidence. Everything Uribe accused Correa of seemed contrived, random and rather frail, and the fact that Uribe dismissed everything he said about Correa only reinforces this impression for me. As for Chávez; I won't defend him, but I'll contribute that if there is a country that is destabilizing the region it certainly isn't Venezuela.

But, at the core of the matter, the situation that brought the crisis is that Colombia violated Ecuador's territory. One good thing about the summit, I would say, is that all of the countries of the region condemned the action and set a legal precedent that the argument of preemptive strikes is not acceptable.

Summing up my point in case the above paragraphs are to messy: 1) Uribe is not to be trusted and so I wouldn't believe his accusations. 2) His transgression was unjustifiable and there was a very bad risk that it would set a bad precedent 3) I was pretty impressed of how well Correa handled matters, always very institutionally and invoking international law and I think the actual resolution of the situation was pretty good 4) Chavez had no business in this, but that's a can of worms I'd rather not open right now.
posted by micayetoca at 4:48 PM on March 7, 2008


Yes indeed its All talk, few tanks in border bravado. Unfortunately one can't discuss Colombian politics without mentioning Chavez who, with his elephant size ego and not unlike some mefites need to make everyhing about himself. From the article :
"Despite his apparent military bluff there is no doubt Chávez is driving events. When Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, first learned of Colombia's incursion his rebuke was mild, possibly from embarrassment about a Farc camp operating from his territory. That changed the next day when Chávez, speaking on his TV show Alo Presidente, ordered a troop mobilisation and assailed Bogotá as a Washington lackey.
Correa followed. When the Organisation of American States, a regional body, condemned the raid, Ecuador initially welcomed the resolution, but after speaking to Chávez, Correa rejected the resolution. Nicaragua's decision to wade in was also attributed to Chávez's influence."
I understand your wanting to leave Chavez out of the discussion, but you just can't.
posted by adamvasco at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2008


Ok, but then let's stick to facts chronologically. Correa's first reaction was mild, I agree, but he explained that: all he had was a call from Uribe saying his version (this is early Saturday, March 1st). He immediately sent teams to investigate and those teams reported to him that what Uribe was claiming (that the Colombian army had responded to attacks from the Colombian side and that they only entered Ecuador's territory to recover Reyes' body). The report from Ecuador's team established a few aggravating circumstances -allegedly, that Colombia's airplanes had to enter at least 10-kms to attack the camp -which was 1.8-km into Ecuador- from South to North and, more gravely, that there were several bodies that presented evidence of execution. It was then, after the report, still during Saturday, that he responded to Colombia, demanding clear explanations and withdrew his ambassador from Colombia. It was at that point that Colombia started replying with all sorts of bogus accusations against Ecuador. Chavez outburst didn't take place until Sunday, during his TV program -as the article mentions, so the article is inaccurate and it makes Correa look like a puppet of Chavez, when he kept a more sensible moderation and compliance with international treaties than anyone else throughout the crisis.

It is also inaccurate that Ecuador initially welcomed the resolution and then, after speaking to Chavez, condemned it. Ecuador welcomed the resolution, Colombia had it changed during the OAS meeting and Ecuador accepted it saying that it was a good first step, but that it was insufficient.

Whatever you want to say about Chavez is fine, he certainly was out of line in this crisis. Daniel Ortega from Nicaragua is ridiculous and I don't think anyone would try to defend his position or actions. But making Correa sound like Chavez' puppet is plain wrong. This was, in my opinion, his first chance at proving that he is more than one of Chavez regional pupils, he stood his own and adhered to international law and protocols more than anyone else in the region has in a while. I think his whole stance was commendable, and I'd like to state it out clearly while we discuss this crisis, because the crisis was in essence about Colombia perpetrating a grave transgression of international law, and Ecuador was the victim. In the end Colombia was cornered and had little options but to accept its transgression, Ecuador stood its ground firmly to great results, and a few others meddled without any need (namely Venezuela and Ortega).
posted by micayetoca at 8:31 AM on March 9, 2008


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