Coro, June 26th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Colombian president Manuel Santos assumed responsibility for the Colombian 2008 military incursion into Ecuadoran territory after the Supreme Court of Sucumbíos, Ecuador, released a summons for 6 officials in the Colombian police and armed forces.
Santos, Minister of Defence at the time, defended his decision to approve “Operation Fénix,” a military assault on a clandestine FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) camp in the Ecuadoran jungle, which resulted in the deaths of 26 people. Raul Reyes, the FARC’s second in command and chief negotiator was killed in the raid, as well as one Ecuadoran and four Mexican citizens.
“It was I who authorised that operation with president Uribe. If anybody is responsible, it is I and nobody else,” said Santos, who stated that he was “infuriated” by the court’s decision.
“It is not just the Colombian people who should be thanking [the Colombian military], but the whole world; because that operation was impeccable, it was a well-aimed strike against terrorism… that’s why the whole world should be thankful” he added.
Ex-commanding officers Freddy Padilla, Mario Montoya, Jorge Ballesteros, retired Admiral Guillermo Barrera, Director of the Colombian Police Force General Oscar Naranjo and ex-Coronel Camilo Álvarez are called to stand trial for homicide and violation of Ecuadoran sovereignty.
The incursion on March 1st 2008 caused severe diplomatic altercations between Colombia and neighbouring Ecuador and Venezuela – whose president Hugo Chávez had been involved in peace negotiations with the FARC for some time.
President Chávez responded to the incursion by labelling Colombia the “Israel of Latin America” and a “terrorist state,” as well as moving troops to the Venezuelan-Colombian border and closing the Venezuelan embassy in Bogotá.
Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa officially broke diplomatic relations with Colombia as a result of the raid, stating that the Colombian military had violated Ecuador’s national sovereignty by illegally crossing the border.
Relations between the two countries were re-established in 2010 when Santos took over the presidency from Alvaro Uribe. Although the Organization of American States (OAS) officially “rejected” the incursion, Colombia and the United States have maintained that it was “legitimate defence.”
In response to the Colombian government’s rejection of the court’s decision, Raúl Vallejo, Ecuadoran ambassador in Colombia stated, “We as a national government have our position and our position is that what happened in Angostura is something which is already resolved, but it shouldn’t be forgotten so as to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”
A communication released from the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations states that the government “rejects” the decision and does not recognise the Ecuadoran court’s jurisdiction.