Imagine for a moment that a well organized group of American citizens decide to secede from the Union. These separatists, frustrated the lack of progress in their quixotic effort abandon legal and political processes and resort to illegal measures such as terrorism.
Since an overwhelming majority of Americans are turned off by these people, the group has trouble raising funds so they turn to international groups that dislike our government for support. They even dabble in the illegal drug trade. Facing possible arrest, they flee and seek haven along the U.S.-Canada or U.S.-Mexico border.
Fortunately, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, have strong, vibrant, and close relations. Neither Mexico or Canada would tolerate a terrorist group to set up safe havens along our mutual borders. In very short order, the U.S. and its partner would track these people down and bring them to justice to account for their crimes. Colombia could only be so lucky to have allies such as these at its borders.
This past weekend the second-highest ranking official of the FARC-People’s Army, along with dozens of other terrorists, was killed in a military operation along the Colombia/Ecuador border area. In fact, preliminary reports are that the battle may have taken place on Ecuadorean soil.
Early reports were that Ecuador’s government had been given advance warning or an alert about the operation, yet Ecuador’s President and loyal supporter of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel and Raul Castro, later disavowed and condemned the operation. Venezuela and Ecuador recalled Ambassadors and expelled Colombian diplomats.
It was a high-profile political kabuki theatre, except that thousands of troops were sent by both Venezuela and Ecuador to the Colombian border. It is rather unfortunate, but not unexpected turn of events. As DNI Mike McConnell reminded Congress a few weeks ago, Venezuela alone has amassed more weapons that it needs and there are other concerns to be watched in the region that impact U.S. interests.
The Colombian government will make its case before the Organization of American States (OAS) today and more facts about this matter will be made public that will surely bolster claims that both Venezuela and Ecuador, Colombia’s neighbors, are providing aid and comfort to the Colombian terrorist organization.
Common sense dictates that in a post-09.11.01 world, countries would assist one another in tracking down terrorists such as members of the FARC-People’s Army. Yet, there is no common sense or common ground when it comes to Venezuela and, it now appears clearly from information secured from the FARC leader, that the Ecuadorean government may be joining the ranks of Hugo Chavez, Fidel and Raul Castro.
In our hemisphere we have hemispheric-wide organizations created after 09.11 designed to share intelligence and bolster cooperation among the region’s democracies. Our military and intelligence community work doubly hard to ensure that our homeland is secure and that our regional partners have the tools they need to combat terrorism, drug smuggling, financial crimes, and other issues that can destabilize the region and undermine U.S. interests. As far as Colombia, it can defend herself and we should be prepared to defend it from the specious attacks from the leaders of Venezuela, Cuba, and Ecuador.
U.S. taxpayers have invested a great deal of time, money, and some Americans have even died for regional stability in the Andean region. Whether it is combating narco-traffickers, the global war on terror, protecting our borders, or tracking down financial criminals, we have a unique interest in the region. With regards to this latest incident, we should stand by our staunch ally Colombia. With what to do about the likes of Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador, as soon as all the facts are know, a decision can be made consistent with our twin goals of regional stability and primary goal of combating terrorists, wherever they may be hiding – a point that Venezuela, Ecuador, and Cuba must understand.