Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela crisis: OAS findings (updated III)
Caracas, Venezuela, Monday 17 March, 2008. The Ecuadorian - Colombian crisis was analysed during the 25th meeting of consultation of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the American States (OAS) in Washington. The Foreign Minister of Dominican Republic, Carlos Morales, chaired the meeting. OAS Foreign Ministers discussed the findings of the investigation commission on the regional crisis. This commission travelled to both Ecuador and Colombia to investigate the facts surrounding the killing -earlier this month-of No2 FARC Leader, Raul Reyes, other guerrilla members and four Mexican students. Recommendations or solutions to the current diplomatic standoff was also reviewed during the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, Colombian Newspaper El Tiempo - own by the family of current Colombian Defense Minister- published photos of Raul Reyes and a man "identified" as the Ecuadorian Minister of External Security Gustavo Larrea. However, Ecuador rejected such identification of the man in the picture. It stated it was not Minister Larrea. It later emerged the man in the picture was Patricio Etchegary, the Secretary General of the Argentinean Communist Party. Ecuador expects a strong condemnation of Colombian violation of its sovereignty. Colombian Noticias Uno, also revealed that the only soldier who was allegedly killed by FARC in combat on March 1, 2008 died in other circumstances. Soldier Carlos Hernandez buried with honours as a hero, died when a tree fell on him during the intervention on Ecuadorian territory. His death certificate was not available and his family suddenly changed address. Such revelation questions once more the allegations used by Colombian government to justify its intervention in Ecuador. Furthermore, the only Mexican student who survived the attack on the FARC camp, Lucia Morett, stated Colombian soldiers killed the wounded. It was a massacre, she added.
During the meeting, US Vice Secretary of State, John Negroponte, stated that the Colombian attack was justifiable. The wording of the meeting resolution created splits among the participating 34 states. Condemnation of Colombia has been debated to no final conclusion yet. Mexico, US and Colombia reject the condemnation. Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela and other eight member states support the condemnation of Colombia. Ecuador and Colombia have not resumed diplomatic relations yet. After several hours negotiating the inclusion of a condemnation of Colombia unsuccessfully, the OAS meeting has been adjourned.
Tuesday 18 March, 2008: Early on Tuesday and after 14 hour negotiations, the 25th meeting of Foreign Ministers informed its proposed and approved resolution - by consensus and acclamation - did not count with the backing of the US government. It supported another stand on the issue of Colombian legitimate defence. The resolution clearly "rejeted" the violation of Ecuadorian territory and acknowledged the apologies by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
The 25th Meeting also decided to keep open its deliberations until a new OAS General Assembly in Medellin, Colombia, later this year. The findings of the OAS commission that travelled to Colombia and Ecuador were barely mentioned in the final resolution. However, the OAS Secretary General was asked to continue its diplomatic mediation to have the resolution enforced and create a friendly atmosphere among the affected parties.
At the OAS press conference, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister- Maria Isabel Salvador- stated her country was satisfied with the resolution. She said it contained the agreements reached at the Summit of the Rio Group and backed important principles of regional International Law such as articles 19 and 21 of the OAS chapter. Foreign Minister Salvador also stated that the use of media disinformation campaign has prevented an earlier resumption of diplomatic relations with Bogota. Bilateral relations with Colombia would be resumed fully in due time, she added.
Colombia failed at its attempt to have a multilateral group enacted to protect its frontiers from terrorist attacks. However, it was not condemn as a country but its action - intervention - rejected. Had it been condemned it would have faced serious international consequences at OAS and face further State responsability.
OAS is not allien to State condemnation at all. On 10 May 1967, there was an incursion of Cuban militia into Venezuela territory at Machurucuto and Falcon State. Then, OAS set up an investigation commision to analyse the incursion. Based on its findings and counting with the backing of the US government, OAS condemned the Cuban action; Cuba had been excluded from the OAS in 1962 though. This time and counting with the backing of the US, Colombia managed to successfully avoid the OAS condemnation for its intervention on Ecuadorian territory.
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