Chávez calls Colombia “the Israel of Latin America”

AFP/Getty Images Over the weekend, both Ecuador and Venezuela sent troops to their borders with Colombia after Colombian President Álvaro Uribe ordered raids on suspected terrorist targets across the Ecudorian border, killing a rebel leader. The standoff between the three nations also featured some pretty harsh rhetoric from Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, who dubbed U.S.-backed ...

596185_080303_farc2.jpg
596185_080303_farc2.jpg

AFP/Getty Images

Over the weekend, both Ecuador and Venezuela sent troops to their borders with Colombia after Colombian President Álvaro Uribe ordered raids on suspected terrorist targets across the Ecudorian border, killing a rebel leader. The standoff between the three nations also featured some pretty harsh rhetoric from Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, who dubbed U.S.-backed Colombia, "the Israel of Latin America" and said Uribe is "a criminal, not only a liar, he is a mafioso, a paramilitary leading a terrorist state." Chávez has long been a supporter of Ecudorian President Rafael Correa and his government's left-leaning approach.

Over the past few months, Chávez has increasingly inserted himself into Colombia's ongoing problem with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the leftist guerrilla group that has been trying to overthrow the Colombian government for decades. In February, hundreds of thousands if not millions marched against FARC in protests worldwide. Yet Chávez insists there is international pressure on the Colombian government to negotiate with FARC, and that he is just the man to broker the peace. He has had some success in recent months in negotiating the release of a handful of FARC hostages, but the number released pales in comparison to the estimated thousands held by the rebel group.

AFP/Getty Images

Over the weekend, both Ecuador and Venezuela sent troops to their borders with Colombia after Colombian President Álvaro Uribe ordered raids on suspected terrorist targets across the Ecudorian border, killing a rebel leader. The standoff between the three nations also featured some pretty harsh rhetoric from Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, who dubbed U.S.-backed Colombia, “the Israel of Latin America” and said Uribe is “a criminal, not only a liar, he is a mafioso, a paramilitary leading a terrorist state.” Chávez has long been a supporter of Ecudorian President Rafael Correa and his government’s left-leaning approach.

Over the past few months, Chávez has increasingly inserted himself into Colombia’s ongoing problem with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the leftist guerrilla group that has been trying to overthrow the Colombian government for decades. In February, hundreds of thousands if not millions marched against FARC in protests worldwide. Yet Chávez insists there is international pressure on the Colombian government to negotiate with FARC, and that he is just the man to broker the peace. He has had some success in recent months in negotiating the release of a handful of FARC hostages, but the number released pales in comparison to the estimated thousands held by the rebel group.

Such incursions are becoming increasingly common in a post-9/11 era of asymmetric warfare, wherein a guerrilla enemy can take advantage of its small size and knowledge of terrain to slip across sovereign boundaries. Turkey recently ventured into northern Iraq in pursuit of the militant group Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and the United States has carried out missile strikes in Pakistan and today in Somalia for similar reasons. And although Chávez may have been understandably unnerved by this practice occurring in his backyard, he may want to think twice about bringing his region to the brink of war over a quick and limited military incursion.

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