QUITO – Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa told Colombia’s FARC rebels to refrain from aggression against Ecuadorians, a reference to the recent killings of nine of his country’s citizens in the border region.
“I’m sending a very clear warning to the FARC: you’re not going to mess around with Ecuadorian lives here,” Correa said during an interview on Canal Uno television.
Correa said that, according to the scant information available to him, it appears that “nine Ecuadorians and one Colombian have been killed in Tobar Donoso on the Colombian side of the border, and that they were then dumped on the Ecuadorian side.”
“The causes of death and the identity of the perpetrators are being investigated. It appears almost certain that they are from the FARC,” Correa said, adding that he will not tolerate an insurgent group killing his fellow citizens.
The incident comes at a time when Ecuador and Colombia are moving toward restoring diplomatic ties that have been suspended since March 3, 2008, two days after a Colombian military bombing of a FARC camp in the Ecuadorian jungle.
Twenty-six people died in that operation, including FARC No. 2 Raul Reyes, an Ecuadorian citizen and four Mexican college students.
During the interview, Correa recalled the meeting that he had last Monday with Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe in Mexico, on the sidelines of the Rio Group summit.
Correa said that during the meeting Ecuador, as the country that was attacked, insisted on compliance with the demands it has made to Colombia as the basis of reestablishing diplomatic ties.
He said that Uribe committed to presenting detailed information of the March 2008 military operation, but that he will do it in Atlanta at the Carter Center, and organization that is lending its good offices to try and mend the broken relations between the two countries.
That information has been demanded by Ecuador from the start, because of the possibility that the United States, Bogota’s patron, might have intervened in the military operation, since at the time it still had a military unit operating from an Ecuadorian airbase.
Correa also recalled that other demands remain pending and said that the process will continue to advance with the next meeting of the Sensitive Issues Commission, which will deal with the most difficult aspects of the controversy between the two governments.
Until those sensitive issues have been discussed, the respective ambassadors will not be designated, Correa said, but in spite of that he stressed that formal relations between the two countries are continuing normally.
In a related matter, Ecuadorian Judge Francisco Revelo declined to pursue a case against former Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos and three senior military officers in connection with the March 2008 raid. EFE