Colombia Relations with Neighbours Remain Strained

News from Colombia | on: Sunday, 17 May 2009

Colombia's relations with Ecuador and Venezuela have suffered further blows in recent weeks with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa again refusing to restore diplomatic relations with Bogota and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez rebuffing an attempt by the Colombian Government to help catch a FARC guerrilla unit that allegedly crossed into Venezuela after killing eight Colombian soldiers. Ecuador is also pressing ahead with cases against Colombia in the international courts.

President Correa, who broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia in March 2008 following an attack by the Colombian military on a FARC guerrilla camp in Ecuador, yesterday told reporters that he wants to sue Colombia for the incursion saying "we are taking all relevant legal measures so this case does not go unpunished." Speaking in his weekly television broadcast, Correa described the Colombian attack on the FARC camp as a "treacherous and devious bombing" and an "insult to national sovereignty".

Just two weeks earlier, in a separate legal case, Ecuador had also presented evidence to the International Court of Justice in the Hague alleging that Colombia's aerial fumigation program was damaging the environment of Ecuador and harming Ecuadorian citizens. The fumigation program, which is carried out by the Colombian security forces to destroy coca plantations (the raw material for cocaine), has been widely criticised for destroying food crops, poisoning drinking water supplies and harming farm animals and human health.

Relations with Venezuela also took a turn for the worse at the end of April when President Chavez ignored a request by the Colombian authorities to help catch a FARC guerrilla unit that had killed eight Colombian soldiers. The guerrilla unit responsible then allegedly crossed the border into Venezuela but, addressing Venezuelan television, Chavez said that "it is not our war, it is Colombia's war" and said that Venezuela would "not interfere in that war". In a further snub, the Venezuelan president, whom Colombian officials have accused of supporting the FARC, also mentioned during his April 30th address that both President Uribe of Colombia and the Colombian Foreign Minister had been trying to call him all day but that he had been too busy to talk to them.

In late March this year both Chavez and Correa also had harsh words for Colombia; whilst Chavez described Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos as "crazy" and a "pupil of the extreme right Yankees", Correa, in a March 29th interview, insisted that Ecuador would not re-establish diplomatic relations with Bogota "not as long as I am President".

For previous related news see:

March 2009: Colombian Defence Minister Sparks Regional Row

Dec 2008: Ecuador President Calls on Obama to End US Military Aid to Colombia

Nov 2008: Colombia Ecuador Relations Still Tense 8 Months after Diplomatic Relations Severed

Sep 2008: Colombian Regime Protests FARC Statue in Venezuela

Aug 2008: Ecuadorian Politician Opens Lawsuit against Colombian Attorney General

July 2008: Colombia-Nicaragua Relations at All Time Low

May 2008: Venezuela Warns Colombia on US Military Base

May 2008: Colombian Troops Seen in Venezuela

April 2008: Uribe is a "Liar" Says President of Ecuador

March 2008: Thousands of Colombians Displaced into Ecuador

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