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Venezuela leader speaks of war after Colombia's raid

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080302105501.4biuppid&show_article=1 Venezuela leader speaks of war after Colombia s raid into Ecuador Mar 2 05:55 AM
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2008
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      http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080302105501.4biuppid&show_article=1

      Venezuela leader speaks of war after Colombia's raid
      into Ecuador
      Mar 2 05:55 AM US/Eastern

      President Hugo Chavez has warned of war if the
      Colombian military crosses into Venezuelan territory,
      after Bogota launched a strike against FARC guerrillas
      in Ecuador, killing a top rebel official.

      Raul Reyes of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
      Colombia (FARC) was killed Saturday in the Colomban
      raid on a jungle camp on the Ecuadoran side of the
      common border.

      Chavez, speaking in Caracas, warned Colombian
      President Alvaro Uribe that any similar strike against
      FARC rebels in Venezuela would reap dire consequences.

      "President Uribe, think about it long and hard. You
      had better not get the idea of doing this on our
      territory because it would be a 'causus belli', cause
      for a war," Chavez said in his first reaction to the
      raid.

      "This is something very grave which is unprecedented
      in our lands," Chavez said, adding that he had
      telephoned Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa "and we
      agreed to keep exchanging information."

      "The government of Colombia acknowledges having made
      an incursion, violating the (air) space of a
      neighboring country in an irresponsible way. This is
      worrisome," Chavez said.

      Correa recalled Ecuador's ambassador to Bogota "for
      consultations" and warned the action might result in
      "ultimate consequences" because of "the offense"
      suffered by his country.

      The Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a
      formal protest with Bogota demanding an explanation,
      while Correa said Uribe was either "misled" by his
      military or "lied to the Ecuadoran government."

      Uribe telephoned Correa to talk to him about the
      operation, but it was unclear if they spoke before or
      after the raid. Correa said he had deployed troops to
      the area to "verify" what had taken place.

      Reyes was in a rebel camp located 1.8 kilometers (a
      mile) from the Ecuadoran-Colombian border when the air
      force began bombing shortly after midnight, Colombian
      Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos told a news
      conference.

      Colombian ground troops were then deployed into the
      guerrilla hideout to secure the area, Santos said. A
      total of 17 guerrillas and one soldier were killed in
      the operation.

      "It is the heaviest blow ever dealt against this
      terrorist group," Santos said.

      Reyes, 59, whose real name was Luis Edgar Devia, was a
      union leader working for Swiss food giant Nestle in
      the southern department of Caqueta when he joined FARC
      in the 1970s.

      The grey-bearded, bespectacled rebel, who went on to
      become the FARC's chief spokesman, donning olive
      fatigues and carrying a rifle, had been viewed as a
      possible successor to the group's 77-year-old boss,
      Manuel Marulanda.

      His killing was a major coup for Uribe, who has taken
      a hard stance against the 17,000-strong FARC, South
      America's biggest insurgent group which has bedeviled
      successive governments since the 1960s.

      It was the first time that one of the seven members of
      FARC's secretariat, or leadership council, was killed
      in combat.

      After the death of FARC's ideological leader Jacobo
      Arenas in 1992, Reyes became the group's international
      face, taking the group's message abroad. In this
      capacity, he met with US government representatives in
      Costa Rica in 1997.

      Pro-government lawmakers and the country's influential
      Roman Catholic Church expressed hope that his death
      would prompt the FARC to release its hostages and
      negotiate a peace agreement.

      "The FARC must seriously begin a peace process that
      puts an end to this long nightmare that Colombia has
      experienced," said Monsignor Fabian Marulanda,
      secretary of the Colombian Episcopal Conference.

      Reyes's death came three days after the FARC
      unilaterally released four former lawmakers who had
      been held hostage for years, handing them to the
      Venezuelan government and the Red Cross in a snub to
      Uribe.
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