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Colombia (Once Again) Blocks Efforts at Rapprochement with Ecuador

Daniel Denvir Oct 6, 2008

A quick note: Hi, I’m new to this blog. I’m an independent journalist in Quito, Ecuador. I write about Latin American politics, US foreign policy, trade, social movements and other issues. You can find out more about my work at www.danieldenvir.com. Thanks to The Indypendent for this opportunity to collaborate.
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Colombia has once again blocked efforts at rapprochement with Ecuador. Quito broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia after the Uribe government bombed a FARC camp in Ecuador on March 1st of this year.

On Friday, Uribe canceled a planned trip to the Andean Community (CAN) summit on October 14th, which will take place in the Ecuadorian coastal metropolis of Guayaquil. Uribe’s pretext for the cancellation was that he took offense to comments that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa made, when he claimed that he will “never forget the aggressions of Colombia.” These comments are the norm for Ecuador’s government, which has consistently rejected Colombia’s cross-border incursion. Colombia’s move shows that there has never been any real intention of renewing diplomatic relations with Ecuador.

On Saturday, Colombia followed up with charges that Ecuador was not doing enough to stop FARC activity in its territory, deepening the impasse.

It is worth taking a look back, to remind readers that Colombia has, at the last minute, hindered every possible rapprochement with Ecuador. It appears that maintaining tensions with Ecuador is an intentional aspect of Uribe’s foreign policy. From the initial discovery of the “magic laptops” purportedly implicating the Ecuadorian and Venezuelan government in support for the FARC, the Colombian government has been on a campaign to keep regional tensions high. This is all part of a strategy to regionalize Plan Colombia and force neighboring countries into Colombia’s internal conflict.

In early June, the Carter Center brokered an agreement between Ecuador and Colombia to reestablish diplomatic relations at the chargé d´affaires level. On Monday June 23, the agreement to renew diplomatic relations collapsed when Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araújo said his country would freeze the process in response to Correa’s “aggressive” comments published in an Argentine newspaper, Página 12, the previous day. In the article, Correa stated that in order to reestablish full diplomatic relations with Colombia, the Colombian government would have to fully explain the March 1 raid, adding charges that the bombs used in the attack came from the United States. Correa’s charges were completely routine, and it seems that Colombia had planned to scuttle the reestablishment of diplomatic relations in any case.
Despite evidence to the contrary, the international press has consistently blamed Ecuador for the freeze in relations. Reuters published an article on May 12 with the strange claim that “Latin American leaders negotiated an end to the crisis, but Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has maintained a bitter war of words with Colombia and has not fully restored ties.” Interestingly, Colombia has normalized diplomatic relations with Venezuela, largely to benefit both countries’ commercial interests.

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