Raul Reyes, a leader in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was recently killed in Ecuador by the Colombian military. The incident has created a near war-like situation involving Venezuela, Ecuador and the Colombian Governments.
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CARACAS, March 5-— Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa asserted today that his government will not rest until the international community has conclusively condemned Colombia for its violation of the country’s sovereignty, reported EFE.
“We are exhausting all diplomatic, peaceful and democratic measures (in the Organization of American States), but we will not allow that the aggressor act with impunity… Ecuador knows how to have its sovereignty respected and respond to the aggressor’s insult,” stated Correa in Caracas, meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chàvez.
He welcomed the OAS endorsement of border inviolability but described the move as insufficient given the Latin American organization’s failure to condemn the government of Uribe, which he expects to happen during the next meeting of foreign ministers.
“We are going to this meeting for a conclusive condemnation, because if we are not able to demand it through our own measures, the OAS and the international community will be responsible,” he emphasized.
For his part, Chávez denounced as a war crime the Colombian military attack within Ecuadorian territory, during which 20 members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) died after being bombed while they slept, among them one of their leaders Raúl Reyes.
Chávez called for preventing the establishment of another Israel in South America and indicated that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe will be condemned in an international court for war crimes.
The Venezuelan President reaffirmed his willingness to continue collaborating in efforts to achieve a humanitarian agreement for Colombia.
Raul Reyes: A hero murdered by Colombian fascism
By Miguel Urbano Rodrigues
Published Mar 5, 2008 9:49 PM
The writer is a former editor of the weekly newspaper Avante in Lisbon, Portugal, a former senator in the European Parliament and a current editor of the Portuguese-language Web magazine, odiario.info, who met Raúl Reyes in 2001 in Colombia.
March 2-—The government of Álvaro Uribe murdered Comandante Raúl Reyes of the FARC at dawn on March 1 in an operation conceived and executed with U.S. support.
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s defense minister first announced this news in a triumphant official statement that greatly distorted the facts of the events so as to hide the criminal nature of the terrorist act.
According to Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, Raúl Reyes was killed in a camp in Ecuador one mile inside the border during a bombardment his country’s air force carried out from Colombian territory in order to “not violate the sovereignty” of neighboring countries.
But soon he clarified that troops of the Colombian army later crossed the border to collect the body of Raúl Reyes and bring it to Bogotá to prevent FARC guerrillas from burying it.
The minister’s note is thus nonsense, even somewhat surrealist. It is unthinkable that any airplane can rain bombs on a camp, hitting the target at a horizontal mile distance. This grotesque lie was followed by the confession that forces of the Colombian army had, after all, shortly afterward violated Ecuadorian sovereignty.
In reality, things happened differently.
Informed by U.S. satellite surveillance, Uribe knew of the presence of a group of FARC guerrillas on the Ecuadorian side of the Colombian Department of Putumayo in the Amazon region.
Bogotá knew that Raúl Reyes was there. The revolutionary leader had a price on his head, dead or alive, of $2.7 million. The informant was paid and Super Tucan airplanes of the most powerful and well-equipped air force in Latin America rained bombs on the FARC camp.
Besides Reyes, the revolutionary singer Julián Conrado—the great artist of the clandestine Voice of Resistance Radio—and 16 guerrillas died in the aerial pirates’ criminal attack. They had been massacred as they slept, in conditions still only poorly known.
When he received the news, Uribe congratulated the Air Force. Reyes’ body, mutilated by shrapnel, was taken to Bogotá. Soon photographs of the hero’s bloody corpse appeared on television and in the newspapers of dozens of countries. The publicity followed almost the same macabre ritual as that accompanying the murder of Che Guevara in October 1967 in Bolivia.
Background for the crime
The terrorist act occurred at a moment when the campaign for the release of the French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt had inspired headlines in the so-called great international press. Never have there been more lies about Colombian reality than in these days when, using as an excuse the suffering of the former presidential candidate, the FARC has been the target of a mountain of slander.
One day it will be evident that in the discussion regarding the humanitarian exchange, the FARC always acted with openness and revolutionary authenticity in moving toward a humanitarian goal, while Uribe acted with hypocrisy, cloaking hidden intentions.
Responding to the insistent appeals from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba, the FARC had decided in a first phase to free Clara Rojas and former member of the House of Representatives Consuelo Perdomo unilaterally. The operation had to be postponed for some days because Uribe intensified the concentration of troops in the area where presumably both would have to be delivered to the International Red Cross and ferried to Caracas in Venezuelan helicopters.
The FARC were conscious of the enormous risks that the operation involved. Those who know the geography of Colombia with its 440,831 square miles and 45 million inhabitants, crossed by three mountain ranges, gigantic rivers and to a large extent covered by the dense Amazon rainforest can evaluate the challenge of leading the two women from an unknown camp until they reached Guaviare Department, close to the Venezuelan border. It is useful to remember that the Colombian army violated the cease-fire agreement and began to bomb the place one hour after the helicopters had flown away.
U.S. satellites had obviously transmitted detailed information to Bogotá on the path followed by the guerrilla command charged with delivering Rojas and Perdomo to the Red Cross.
The FARC had later insisted on demilitarizing the cities of Pradera and Florida as an indispensable condition for the humanitarian exchange, as demanded by the Colombian people—an operation that could foresee the exchange of 40 hostages held by the FARC—including Ingrid Betancourt—for 500 guerillas jailed in government-run penitentiaries.
Uribe refused to accept all the international proposals he received that had the objective of permitting an agreement that would allow the exchange.
Despite the neofascist president of Colombia’s intransigent attitude, the FARC, in accordance with a new appeal from Hugo Chávez, had taken the decision to free, also in a unilateral gesture, four members of the House of Representatives it was holding.
One more time the operation was postponed because the army, on the eve of the coming date, mobilized powerful forces, concentrating them in the Departments of Caquetá, Meta and Guaviare, where the FARC has deep roots and where the parliamentarians could pass.
This government initiative had a two-part objective.
If there was a direct clash, Uribe would hold the FARC responsible for the death of the members of the House of Representatives. Simultaneously, the airplanes, equipped with a technology that Washington had previously only provided Israel, were extremely active.
The U.S. satellites had transmitted valuable information to Bogotá.
But the FARC had once more succeeded, which did nothing to stop an intensification of the campaign for the immediate release of Ingrid Betancourt.
Under the existing conditions, it was impossible to fulfill this demand. A fragile, sick person could in no conceivable way walk for days through the jungle, where the Colombian troops would be able to intercept the unit responsible for the trip.
The FARC had therefore renewed its proposal for demilitarization of Pradera and Florida, without which the humanitarian exchange would be impracticable.
A hero fallen in combat
Comandante Raúl Reyes was, after Manuel Marulanda, the most distinguished member of the Secretariat and the Central Committee of the FARC.
A revolutionary since his youth—he was now 60 years old—his first political struggles were as a trade unionist. These had been an initiation for other battles. More than 30 years ago, Luis Edgar Devia took to the mountains, joined the FARC and became Raúl Reyes.
I met him in May of 2001. I had received an invitation to spend some weeks in the FARC camp near San Vicente del Caguán, capital of what was then the Demilitarized Zone. I accepted with pleasure.
Raúl Reyes’ physical appearance made no strong impression. Short, his hair lightly graying, his voice had a soft timbre. But the first night, after supper, when we talked in his command post—an austere office, with a table and two chairs, installed under a tent hidden by the high vegetation of the Amazon—I perceived that this fragile guerrilla was an exceptional individual. We spoke about the world in crisis before he offered me books and documentation as an indispensable prologue to approaching the struggle of the FARC.
He was responsible for the peace negotiations that were taking place in those weeks in the hamlet of Los Pozos with the representatives of the government of President Andrés Pastrana.
Those were the times when Pastrana greeted Manuel Marulanda with the kiss of Judas, days when ambassadors of countries of the European Union came to compete for the words and the smile of the legendary Tirofijo, supreme commander of the FARC.
I traveled with Reyes to La Macarena, where the FARC had unilaterally freed 304 soldiers and police, who had been prisoners of war, and I had the privilege of holding long discussions with him in the cool forest mornings about his revolutionary organization, of Latin America and of the strategy of U.S. imperialism, the greatest enemy of humanity. And also about life.
I wrote my own encampment articles for “Avante!” on the combatants of the FARC and also published an interview in the Portuguese Communist Party’s weekly newspaper.
The atmosphere had something unreal about it, because the texts themselves were transmitted by Reyes’ secretary to an addressee who later directed them to the periodical. The Internet, paradoxically, could function as instrument at the service of a revolutionary guerrilla. I felt honored that Raúl Reyes continued in contact with me. I often received his messages, through the intermediary of friends of the commander, at times expressing thanks for articles published about the FARC’s struggle.
I remember that little shortly before the capture in Ecuador of Comandante Simón Trinidad—who was later delivered by Uribe to the U.S.—Reyes suggested that I return to the Colombian forest. The project was then put aside because the Ecuadorian border had become very unsafe.
Until his last day, Reyes was the voice of the FARC in its dialog with the world. But the guerrilla commander, responsible for countless tasks, still found time to write articles, some on complex ideological questions, for the magazine Resistencia, the international organ of the FARC, and to give interviews to periodicals in Europe, Latin America and the U.S. In these articles, he showed the firmness of a hardened Communist complemented harmoniously by the culture of a humanist intellectual.
Uribe is now celebrating the death of the combatant who, in the words of homage of Jaime Caicedo, the secretary general of the Colombian Communist Party, was an exemplary revolutionary who “delivered his life for the cause in which he believed.”
The triumphal bearing of the neofascist president of Colombia, who financed paramilitaries when governor of Antioquia and who has his name on the list of narcotics traffickers published by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, but is today the supreme ally of Bush in Latin America, does not have the power to make history.
Uribe and Bush’s presidential terms in their countries will leave only the memory of shady deals and crimes against humanity. The March Against Paramilitarism and for Peace in Colombia, to take place on March 6 in that country and in the various capitals of Europe and Latin America [and in the U.S.—tr.], also will take on the role of a posthumous homage to Raúl Reyes. Solidarity with those who fight and die for a democratic and progressive Colombia is necessary, now more than ever.
As he disappears, murdered, Raúl Reyes enters the Pantheon of the heroes of Latin America. Like Sucre, as Bolívar, as Artigas, and Che, Raúl Reyes crosses the border to the only possible form of eternity—that of the men and women who have lived to serve humanity and contribute so that humanity continues to survive and prevail.
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Workers World to FARC-EP: Uribe, Bush are the real criminals
Published Mar 5, 2008 9:55 PM
The massacre committed by the Colombian military forces on March 1st in Ecuador where Raúl Reyes, the member of the secretariat of the FARC-EP in charge of international relations and a key figure in the negotiations for the prisoners exchange, was killed, has prompted the rupture of relations of both Ecuador and Venezuela with neighboring Colombia.
The massacre, which was carried out with a high-tech intelligence operation aided by the United States, is a grave violation of international law and a serious blow to the humanitarian exchange that is seen as the road to peace in Colombia. As a consequence, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa recalled the Ecuadorian ambassador in Colombia, ordered the expulsion of the Colombian ambassador in Ecuador, and sent 3,200 troops to the border with Colombia. He has also been calling the presidents of several Latin American countries to plan a strategy in order to avoid the internationalization of the Colombian conflict and the impunity of this massacre.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in turn, stating that the Colombian government has turned into the biggest threat against the peoples of Latin America, cautioned Colombian President Álvaro Uribe not to invade Venezuelan space. He also broke relations with Colombia, closing down the Venezuelan Embassy in Bogotá and sending 10 battalions with a total of 8,000 troops to the border.
The massacre is an intensification of the U.S. plans of war and destabilization, particularly against Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. President Chávez and others have described the role of Colombia as “the Israel of Latin America.” The increasing threat against Venezuela is highlighted by the declarations of the Venezuelan former vice president, José Vicente Rangel. He said that “in the last few weeks there have been important deployments of Colombian military units on the border with Venezuela.”
Workers World sent the following message to the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia—Peoples’ Army on March 4:
To the Secretariat and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—Peoples’ Army (FARC-EP):
Please accept our most sincere and heartfelt condolences upon the death of the heroic Raúl Reyes, the revolutionary musician Julián Conrado and other revolutionaries vilely murdered by the Colombian government which, placing its thirst for blood and paramilitary violence above the cry for peace and the search for a humanitarian agreement among the Colombian people, invaded the neighboring country of Ecuador, raining bombs and cowardly executing, with the aid of the U.S. government, this group of insurgent forces.
This has been an immense blow against the peace process in the suffering country named Colombia, a process materializing through the humanitarian exchange the FARC-EP was advancing with so much openness and generosity with the diligent assistance of Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, both of whom have been working for true peace and justice in the region.
From inside the monster, the United States, we send the message that we will continue to advance the proposition that the name of the FARC-EP should be eliminated from the terrorist list and that the FARC-EP’s character as a belligerent force fighting for peace and social justice be recognized. In Colombia it has been proven—by the extermination of the Patriotic Union (UP) and as the government and the Colombian army and its paramilitary collaborators continue their selective murders and arrests of union leaders, farmers, students and human-rights activists and the forced displacements of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities—that the peaceful social struggle in Colombia has been condemned to death by paramilitary state terrorism.
We will also attempt to expose to public opinion the real international terrorists: the paramilitary administration of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, for its multiple crimes against Colombian civil society, and the administration of George W. Bush, for the criminal wars waged, like those carried out against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, and its warlike intervention all over the world at the price of thousands of innocent lives and global destabilization.
And in Colombia in particular, where the U.S. applies its Plan Colombia, the armed wing of the “Free” Trade Agreements, designed not to combat drug trafficking but to repress and massacre the Colombian people for the benefit of criminal transnational corporations like Occidental Petroleum, Coca Cola, Drummond and Chiquita, that attack their workers, stealing the wealth of the Colombian people.
For a new world with social justice!
Raúl Reyes, Julián Conrado and all guerrilla fighters murdered on March 1, ¡Presentes!
The Secretariat & National Committee of Workers World Party/Mundo Obrero (WW/MO), United States.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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