From Aporrea, another jaw-dropper:
Rafael Correa added his voice to that of Hugo Chavez and called on the FARC to lay down their arms.
“What future is there for guerrillas combatting a democratic government, who have no popular support in the 21st century?” asked the Ecuadorian president.
His words sound as tough as those of his Venezuelan counterpart, who insisted last Sunday that the guerrillas must end their war in Colombia. The two presidents have acted as mediators in securing the release of hostages this year and, according to the supposed computers of Raul Reyes, had contacts and alliances with the Colombian guerrillas.
Without mentioning Colombian president Alvaro Uribe directly, or the denunciations his government has directed against Quito, Correa took a few minutes during a televised interview to send a message. He spoke haltingly, pronouncing with a special emphasis on each word. “Please, enough already, lay down your arms, let’s have a political and diplomatic dialogue to find peace. We’ve said so 500 times,” he said.
To avoid Uribe’s capitalizing on his words, as he did this past week with those of Chavez, the Ecuadorian president made very clear that he is not taking the side of the Colombian government. “This conflict is spilling over into all the neighboring countries and it’s destabilizing the whole region. There are also Ecuadorians among the hostages,” he emphasized.
He offered himself again as a mediator, and his country’s territory, to restart negotiations for humanitarian exchange. “We have all the right and the obligation to intervene in humanitarian actions such as the liberation of hostages, without asking permission of absolutely anyone,” he assured, in defiance of Bogota. He ordered his minister of Interior and Exterior Security, Gustavo Larrea, to seek new contacts with the guerrillas to reopen the dialogue for the hostages. “But we still don’t have that contact,” he declared.
But while rumors arise about new initiatives by the governments of Ecuador and Venezuela, Uribe has his own strategy. Yesterday he reiterated that members of the FARC proposed to the government that they would demobilize and hand over their civilian hostages, among them Ingrid Betancourt, in exchange for the promise that they would not be extradited.
Correa repeatedly emphasized that the situation with the neighboring country remains tense. “We don’t have any eagerness to re-establish relations. We were the victims of an attack. We have every right to attach conditions,” he said. He accepted, as a “goodwill gesture”, that he would return to maintaining a link insofar as negotiations go, but no more than that.
For its part, the Colombian government refused to approve any of the demands from Quito to re-establish complete diplomatic relations.
Like Chavez, Correa also refuses to label the FARC a terrorist group. However, that declaration was not enough for the FARC to take to heart the declarations of the Venezuelan president, and surely the same will happen with those of his Ecuadorian counterpart.
“The declarations of Chavez make no sense and were taken out of context by media terrorists in the service of the US empire and the oligarchies of Colombia and Venezuela,” declared the Colombian news website Anncol, which has close ties to the guerrillas.
It remains to be seen what the FARC make of these declarations, but this is one of those “another one bites the dust” moments for me. Another “terrorist ties” myth has been busted, this time by El Ecuadorable.
So, with that in mind, it’s time to cue up the Queen song: