US/Colombia hands off Venezuela and Ecuador! Act now to stop war in Latin America

What only a few days ago seemed like a remote prospect has suddenly
become a real possibility. The Colombian military's brutal massacre of 21 (at
last count) guerrillas with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia –
Peoples Army (FARC-EP), including Raul Reyes, the FARC's chief negotiator and
spokesperson, in Ecuador on March 1 marks a dramatic leap in the United States'
plan to potentially trigger off an armed confrontation between Colombia and

These events should be of major concern for all supporters of the Venezuelan
revolution, and anti-war and peace activists the world over.

On March 1, in violation of all international treaties regarding defence
of national sovereignty, the Colombian government of President Alvaro Uribe bombed
Ecuadorian territory to assassinate of Reyes and the other FARC guerrillas. The
governments of Ecuador and Venezuela responded by mobilising troops to their
respective borders with Colombia, stating their willingness to defend their
national sovereignty at all costs. Both countries broke diplomatic ties with
the Colombian regime and announced that they would seek an international
condemnation of its action.

The Colombian government has attempted to justify its actions as part of
the fight against "terrorism". But this is just the latest in a string of lies the
Colombian government made in order to keep face. Its first lie was claiming
that it never violated Ecuadorian sovereignty. Then the lie that its actions
were a response to FARC attacks was exposed as images emerged of the murdered
guerrillas in their pyjamas.

Following these unjustifiable actions and, subsequently, a weak
"apology" to Ecuador, the Colombian government has tried to claim the existence
of documents, obtained from three laptops that "miraculously" survived the
bombing, that link Ecuador and Venezuela to the "terrorism" of the FARC. Both
Ecuador and Venezuela have denounced the claims as "absolute lies."

Judging by the quality of the claims made in these documents, (in which
the FARC seem to have discussed highly sensitive information without using any
form of code), it appears that what were found were the same laptops that
provided the "information" about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction in
the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

All this is a smokescreen for the real aim – part of a plan drawn up in Washington
and being enacted by its puppets in Colombia. The Colombian government has
revealed that it had the coordinates of Reyes' whereabouts for several weeks,
including while he was in Colombian territory, yet it chose to act while he was
in Ecuador. Moreover, the bombing was carried out only days after Venezuela,
with Ecuador's support, led a successful international mission to receive the
unilateral handover of four FARC prisoners, the success of which gave hope to
many that peaceful solution to the conflict in Colombia was possible.

Despite the brutal attack on them, the FARC guerrillas have declared
their willingness to continue with the process of releasing prisoners as part
of trying to reach a political solution.

The longer term aim of the Colombian government's most recent attack is to
establish a precedent for violating the sovereignty of other countries so it
can carry out military actions outside its borders as part of its supposed war
on "terrorism". In other words, it wants to establish itself as the Israel of
Latin America, with support from Washington to carry out further such actions.

More immediately, the Colombian regime, which receives more US military
funding than any other country in the region, is attempting to end the
humanitarian accord being promoted by the FARC and to provoke a conflict with
Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, has played a central role in efforts
to achieve peace in Colombia. Colombia has suffered from six decades of brutal
state-sponsored terrorism, including from infamous right-wing death squads
linked to the military. Hundreds of trade unionists and other activists are
assassinated in Colombia each year. A humanitarian accord would force
Colombia's elite to dismantle this terror apparatus.

Washington too fears a political solution to Colombia's internal war
which provides a pretext for the militarisation of the region through Plan
Colombia and now Plan Patriot. Any moves towards peace put into question the
role of the US, which has pushed a policy of violence and conflict that, after
decades, has achieved worse than nothing.

Frightened by the powerful alternative provided by the pro-people,
pro-peace policies of the revolutionary government of Venezuela – an
alternative that is inspiring millions of people around the world and
strengthening Latin American integration – the US and Colombian regimes are
escalating their policy of war to try to derail Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution.
Alongside their military provocation, their lies about Venezuela being a "gateway
for narco-trafficking" and involved in "aiding terrorism" are aimed at justifying
any attack on Venezuela as a "necessary" part of the US's so-called war on

The Australia-Venezuela
Solidarity Network (AVSN) joins with the overwhelming majority Latin American
governments in condemning Colombia's actions. We support the actions taken by
Venezuela and Ecuador to defend their national sovereignty. We applaud their dignified
stance in breaking relations with Colombia, and demand that the Australian
government do the same.

Without peace and justice in Colombia, there can be no peace for revolutionary
Venezuela. That is why the AVSN is actively supporting the March 6
international day of action called by the families of victims of state and
paramilitary violence in Colombia, and urges all people who support a peaceful,
political solution to the Colombian conflict and Venezuela's right to
self-determination to join us.

US, Colombia hands off
Venezuela and Latin America!

A statement
from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

March 5,