The Associated Press
March 03. 2007
HAVANA -- Fidel Castro blamed the U.S. for bringing Colombia to the brink of a military clash withneighboring Venezuela and Ecuador, writing on Monday that "genocidal plans of the Yankee empire" created tensions between the South American nations.
Venezuela and Ecuador ordered troops to their borders with Colombia and withdrew their ambassadors from Bogota after Colombia killed a top rebel leader, Raul Reyes, on Ecuadorean soil on Saturday.
"We can plainly hear the trumpets of war to the south of our continent as a consequence of genocidal plans of the Yankee empire," Castro wrote in an essay published in the Communist Party daily Granma.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa had planned to fly to Havana on Monday to participate in an economic forum, but Castro wrote that the crisis caused "our dear friend" to cancel his trip.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is an ally of Washington, which has backed his country's battle against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's largest guerrilla group.
Castro's comments, at the end of a lengthy essay on other topics, echoed accusations by his friend President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela that Washington was to blame for the crisis.
Castro, 81 and ailing, stepped aside as president last month. He was succeeded by his brother Raul, 76, who had been provisional president since Castro underwent emergency surgery in July 2006.
The older Castro is a socialist ally of Chavez, and the oil-rich South American nation has helped keep Cuba's economy growing by providing nearly 100,000 barrels of subsidized oil a day to Cuba.