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US/Colombia hands off Venezuela and Ecuador! Act now to stop war in Latin America

Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

March 5, 2008 -- What only a few days ago seemed like a remote prospect has suddenly become a real possibility. The Colombian military’s brutal massacre of 21 (at last count) guerrillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -– Peoples Army (FARC-EP), including Raul Reyes, the FARC's chief negotiator and spokesperson, in Ecuador on March 1 marks a dramatic leap in the United States' plan to potentially trigger off an armed confrontation between Colombia and Venezuela.

These events should be of major concern for all supporters of the Venezuelan revolution, and anti-war and peace activists the world over.

On March 1, in violation of all international treaties regarding defence of national sovereignty, the Colombian government of President Alvaro Uribe bombed Ecuadorian territory to assassinate of Reyes and the other FARC guerrillas. The governments of Ecuador and Venezuela responded by mobilising troops to their respective borders with Colombia, stating their willingness to defend their national sovereignty at all costs. Both countries broke diplomatic ties with the Colombian regime and announced that they would seek an international condemnation of its action.

The Colombian government has attempted to justify its actions as part of the fight against ``terrorism''. But this is just the latest in a string of lies the Colombian government made in order to keep face. Its first lie was claiming that it never violated Ecuadorian sovereignty. Then the lie that its actions were a response to FARC attacks was exposed as images emerged of the murdered guerrillas in their pyjamas.

Following these unjustifiable actions and, subsequently, a weak ``apology'' to Ecuador, the Colombian government has tried to claim the existence of documents, obtained from three laptops that ``miraculously'' survived the bombing, that link Ecuador and Venezuela to the ``terrorism'' of the FARC. Both Ecuador and Venezuela have denounced the claims as ``absolute lies''.

Judging by the quality of the claims made in these documents, (in which the FARC seem to have discussed highly sensitive information without using any form of code), it appears that what were found were the same laptops that provided the ``information'' about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

All this is a smokescreen for the real aim -- part of a plan drawn up in Washington and being enacted by its puppets in Colombia. The Colombian government has revealed that it had the coordinates of Reyes' whereabouts for several weeks, including while he was in Colombian territory, yet it chose to act while he was in Ecuador. Moreover, the bombing was carried out only days after Venezuela, with Ecuador's support, led a successful international mission to receive the unilateral handover of four FARC prisoners, the success of which gave hope to many that peaceful solution to the conflict in Colombia was possible.

Despite the brutal attack on them, the FARC guerrillas have declared their willingness to continue with the process of releasing prisoners as part of trying to reach a political solution.

The longer term aim of the Colombian government’s most recent attack is to establish a precedent for violating the sovereignty of other countries so it can carry out military actions outside its borders as part of its supposed war on ``terrorism''. In other words, it wants to establish itself as the Israel of Latin America, with support from Washington to carry out further such actions.

More immediately, the Colombian regime, which receives more US military funding than any other country in the region, is attempting to end the humanitarian accord being promoted by the FARC and to provoke a conflict with Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, has played a central role in efforts to achieve peace in Colombia. Colombia has suffered from six decades of brutal state-sponsored terrorism, including from infamous right-wing death squads linked to the military. Hundreds of trade unionists and other activists are assassinated in Colombia each year. A humanitarian accord would force Colombia's elite to dismantle this terror apparatus.

Washington too fears a political solution to Colombia's internal war which provides a pretext for the militarisation of the region through Plan Colombia and now Plan Patriot. Any moves towards peace put into question the role of the US, which has pushed a policy of violence and conflict that, after decades, has achieved worse than nothing.

Frightened by the powerful alternative provided by the pro-people, pro-peace policies of the revolutionary government of Venezuela –- an alternative that is inspiring millions of people around the world and strengthening Latin American integration -- the US and Colombian regimes are escalating their policy of war to try to derail Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution. Alongside their military provocation, their lies about Venezuela being a ``gateway for narco-trafficking'' and involved in ``aiding terrorism'' are aimed at justifying any attack on Venezuela as a ``necessary'' part of the US's so-called war on terror.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) joins with the overwhelming majority Latin American governments in condemning Colombia's actions. We support the actions taken by Venezuela and Ecuador to defend their national sovereignty. We applaud their dignified stance in breaking relations with Colombia, and demand that the Australian government do the same.

Without peace and justice in Colombia, there can be no peace for revolutionary Venezuela. That is why the AVSN is actively supporting the March 6 international day of action called by the families of victims of state and paramilitary violence in Colombia, and urges all people who support a peaceful, political solution to the Colombian conflict and Venezuela's right to self-determination to join us.

US, Colombia hands off Venezuela and Latin America!

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