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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ecuador recalls ambassador to Colombia for consultations after death of "Reyes" in the country

Via El Tiempo, 2 March, 2008

The move was announced by President Rafael Correa, who warned that he will risk "the ultimate consequences in order to clarify this outrageous act that is an attack on our territory".

He added that "The president (Alvaro Uribe) or was either misinformed, or he blatantly lied to the president of Ecuador (...). We are lodging a strong note of protest".

He also said: "If we can find no conclusive evidence or explanations showing that President Uribe was misled or that evidence is clear for all the world to see that he has once again lied to the Ecuadorian government and that he has no scruples regarding our territory ... I repeat: we will risk the ultimate consequences, but we will not allow even one more outrage.''

The Colombian authorities claimed that the camp where "Reyes" was was located 1.8 kilometres on the Ecuadorian side of the border.

For these reasons, Correa recalled his ambassador in Colombia, Francisco Suéscum Ottati .

"They were massacred as they slept"

Correa explained that according to the Ecuadorian army, they found, at the scene of battle (near the town of Angostura, 250 kilometres northeast of Quito and 130 kilometres from the border with Peru) that ''there was no sign of pursuit.''

The guerrillas were "bombed and massacred as they slept, using advanced technology (...) probably with the
collaboration of foreign powers'", said Correa.

He also said that a military patrol that went to the area found 15 of the
guerrilla's corpses, and 2 wounded guerrillas in a makeshift camp ... in Ecuadorian territory (...) and that the corpses were wearing pyjamas''.

According to the Ecuadorian head of state, it was a "temporary camp of the Colombian guerrillas (...) Colombia clearly invaded Ecuadorian
airspace (...) and then came to take the body of "Raul Reyes"' ".

The President described the incident as "a real blow to the civilised relationship that fraternal countries sharing a border
should have".

"Bombing the most serious attack on the sovereignty of Ecuador
this century"

"The bombing the most serious attack on the sovereignty of Ecuador this century" according to Ecuador's Security Minister, Gustavo Larrea.

According to Larrea, "there is a history of an armed incursion by one state (Colombia) against the other sovereign state (Ecuador) with no respect for any international procedure, just such as has happened this morning (Saturday)," he added.

ollowing the statements by Correa, the defense minister of Ecuador, Wellington Sandoval, added that the military forces of Ecuador are "on alert" on the border with Colombia and "ready to repel any external aggression."

He assured that the Ecuadorian military played no role in the attacks.

''This is an area of very thick jungle and of course our troops were not present there. It is impossible to have troops along the entire border,''he said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia said that tonight there would be a response by the minister of Foreign Relations, Fernando Araujo.

The Ecuadorian border was closed on "Reyes"

Highflying aircraft bombed their camp. His death is the biggest blow struck to the FARC in 44 years of armed conflict.

The most significant blow to the FARC had received throughout its history, the killing of "Raul Reyes" yesterday on the border with Ecuador, followed several events this week.

On Wednesday, police intelligence returned to "listening in" to some communications, which had reappeared after two months of silence.

That signal complemented valuable information obtained by the Dijín in another operation on Monday when another blow was struck against the FARC: the capture of "
Martín Sombra", one of the 'historic guerrillas' at Saboyá (Boyacá).

In addition, this week the network responsible for the security of "Reyes"
was thwarted in the border area. In Piñuña Black, jurisdiction of Puerto Leguizamo (Putumayo), several of them were arrested .

Among them was alias "Martha", the sister of Rubin Castaneda, the head of the Front.

That was the group responsible for ensuring, with payment, the tranquil movement of "Raul Reyes" around the border.

These captures were key in verifying reports on the presence of the guerrilla chief in several FARC camps that were distributed on both sides of the border and also forced him to move, because he had not received the money sent him every week by secretariat.

Data from human sources, alongside intelligence techniques, enabled tracing of the increasingly sporadic communications of "Reyes", and air power decided the fate of the first member of the FARC secretariat to die in a military action of the Colombian State.

In the words of an official source, data on the movements of '"Reyes" were so accurate that they were only waiting for "his nose to stick out" to start the operation. And that happened after midnight on Friday.

Yesterday, when he announced to the country that the troops were the bodies of "Reyes" and "
Julián Conrado" (a very popular commander in the FARC because he was one of the guerrillas' singers) Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos confirmed information which has caused ongoing friction with Quito: that there are subversive camps in Ecuadorian territory.

According to minister Santos, the Government learned that "Reyes" had come to a camp of the 48th Front in the site of Grenada last night.

At 12:25 am yesterday, several Air Force planes left bases in the south of the country with a clearly defined goal.

The planes flew only at 2 thousand feet high. Cluster bombs were used on the targets defined by the intelligence.

At the same time, several battalions entered the area by helicopter, but were met with heavy fire coming from across the border. These bullets killed the professional soldier Carlos Hernandez Leon.

This second camp was 1,800 meters inside the Ecuadorian territory, in a place known as Santa Rosa. The aircraft fire was then directed there, but the minister said that the river Putumayo was not crossed. The aim? "Powerfully responding fire and neutralising the enemy."

It was, to quote a high source, a "surgical operation" with the participation of all security agencies.

A joint command of the Police and Navy crossed the border. Some stayed to maintain control of the site until they had contacted representatives of the Ecuadorian authorities, who were immediately informed of the facts.

What the troops found was reported immediately to Bogota, where every detail was described to the millimetre: they found the bodies of 17 guerrillas, including two of the most wanted: Édgar Luis Devia, the man who in the world of war was known as "Raul Reyes", and Guillermo Enrique Torres, "Julian Conrado", of the FARC.

According to a high source who participated in the successful operation,
"Reyes" had a Rolex watch and the state of his body allowed its immediate identification.

The body's 1.55 metres in height and the scars on his forehead and left index finger match. He also had a tattoo. He wore a T-shirt with the face of Manuel Marulanda, as shown in the photos first revealed yesterday in the afternoon by

Intelligence sources ensured that a young guerrilla who had become his partner in recent months also died.

The death of "Conrado" is also very symbolic. He had been in the thematic committees during negotiations at Caguan and was now the ideologist of the 48th Front. He was the director of the Voice of the Resistance, the
FARC's network of clandestine stations, and the Government of the EU had also placed a price on his head: $ 2.5 million.

$ 5 million was offered for "Reyes", and it was assessed yesterday whether that money would be handed over to sources in the border area, who allowed the authorities to strike the historic coup, which joins others such as bombings against "Acacio Negro" and "
Martín Caballero".

25 arrest warrants have been issued, and several convictions were pending against "Raul Reyes". He was one of the masterminds of the strategy to kidnap politicians to pressure the so-called humanitarian exchange.

2 thousand feet was the height at which armed aircraft of the Air Force bombed the camp where the chief guerrilla "Raul Reyes" and his men were.

Evidence of the importance of Ecuador to the FARC

In fact, two of the harshest blows to the guerrillas in recent years have occurred south of the border.

On January 2, 2004, in an operation which was supported by the Ecuadorian authorities,
Ricardo Ovidio Palmera Pineda, known as' Simon Trinidad ', was captured - one of the 22 members of the so-called general staff of the FARC.

His capture occurred in the touristy Amazonas Avenue in the Ecuadorian capital.

Like other guerrilla leaders, "Trinidad" had legal documents issued in that country. They were in the name of Cristo Rey Mariscal Peralta.

According to intelligence reports of the police and the Colombian Army, "Simon Trinidad" sought refuge there often, and was even receiving medical treatment.

But "Trinidad", catalogued as a big fish of the FARC, was not the only one who crossed the boundary line, about 600 kilometres long, often.

Intelligence agencies in Colombia have also discovered information to the effect that Ecuador is the meeting point between leaders of the guerrillas and their families.

"Rodrigo Granda" was supposed to be there when he was captured in Venezuela in 2004. The guerrilla, who was released by the government Uribe last year, depended directly on "Reyes" and moved easily between Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador.

Furthermore, we know that the other side of the border contacts are made for purchase of armament and kitchenware. Information to this effect was given this week by Luis Eladio Perez, the
nariño leader released last Wednesday after more than six years of captivity.

He recounted how the rubber boots used by the FARC units operating in the south are made in Ecuador. "I slept in camps in that country," said Perez.

Drawing on a border marked by jungle and rivers, all illegal groups are believed to move through the area. The Farc have used it to traffick large quantities of drugs through the region for years.

The Armed Forces have also alleged that several operations against the FARC fronts, especially the 48th, have ended with the passage of the guerrillas into the neighbouring territory, where they have camps and guard coca crops.

For its part, the Ecuadorian authorities also complain about the presence of guerrillas in the area and the alleged lack of control by the Colombian authorities.

This has caused diplomatic friction between the leaders of the two countries.

Villagers have also complained of damage caused during the fighting.

However, in this latest blow, the authorities and governments seem to be coordinated. Moreover, it comes at a time of relatively calm in the relations between Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, and Alvaro Uribe Velez.

Even the international conflict, because of the fumigation of illicit crops by Colombia, affecting farmers in Ecuador, is virtually frozen.

With EFE and AP

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