Colombia’s raid, one year later

The Economist reports that things have worked out very well for Colombia:

A YEAR ago Colombia’s neighbours condemned it for sending troops into Ecuador to bomb and overrun a camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The raid was a success: one of the FARC’s senior leaders, Raúl Reyes, was killed and Colombian forces grabbed three laptops containing vital intelligence, including evidence of the guerrillas’ contacts with the leftist governments of Ecuador and Venezuela. Since then Colombia’s American-backed drive to crush the FARC has made further progress. The guerrillas have lost other leaders and suffered desertions. A group of prominent hostages they were holding was rescued in July. On March 2nd the army said it had killed another FARC leader, José de Jesús Guzmán, alias “Gaitán”, suspected of organising bombings in the capital, Bogotá.

After last year’s raid, Ecuador and Venezuela severed diplomatic relations with Colombia and sent troops to their borders with it. Other South American countries, even moderate Brazil, condemned the incursion. Two regional clubs, the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Rio Group, expressed disapproval. However, within weeks of the raid, Colombia’s President Álvaro Uribe was again on backslapping terms with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Mr Uribe smoothed things over with Brazil on a recent visit there. Relations with Ecuador remain cut but overall, says Alfredo Rangel, a security analyst in Bogotá, Colombia has paid a “small diplomatic price”.

The diplomatic price has certainly been insignificant when weighed against the enormous intelligence benefits they gained from the raid. FARC is all but defeated now.

But, relations are still frosty between Colombia and Ecuador:

[Ecuadorean President Rafael] Correa says relations will not be restored until certain conditions are met. These include Colombia improving its border security to stop the FARC crossing into Ecuador. Mr Correa also wants the Colombians to give a full report of their raid on his country’s territory, including all the information they found on the FARC’s computers. . . Finally, Mr Correa wants Colombia to stop “defaming” his government by revealing what the computers told it about the rebels’ links to Ecuadorean officials.

Let me get this straight.  FARC is a guerilla army fighting the Colombian government (on the occasions it’s not functioning as a mere criminal gang), and Ecuador gave them save haven, but it’s Colombia’s responsibility to keep them from using that safe haven?  Also, Ecuador wants to know all the intelligence that Colombia gained.  Surely only a cynic would wonder if it might somehow get turned over to FARC. Finally, they want Colombia to stop showing the world proof of the ties between FARC and Ecuador.  If that’s the price of good relations, I’m sure Colombia will be content with bad ones.

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