The Associated Press
March 03, 2008
QUITO, Ecuador -- Ecuador on Monday broke off diplomatic ties with Colombia and Venezuela says it will expel Colombia's ambassador after that country conducted a strike against leftist rebels inside Ecuador.
The Colombian commando raid on Saturday that killed Raul Reyes infuriated Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and his ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Chavez has called Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe a "mob boss" and a "liar." Both countries have mobilized troops toward their borders with Colombia.
"The government of Ecuador has decided to break off diplomatic relations with the government of Colombia starting today," a statement from Ecuador's foreign ministry said.
The Venezuelan foreign ministry later announced its decision in a statement, saying it was acting "in defense of the sovereignty of the fatherland and the dignity of the Venezuelan people."
It said the government "has decided to order the immediate expulsion... of the ambassador of the Republic of Colombia in Venezuela, and the diplomatic personnel of the Colombian Embassy in Caracas."
Colombia said military commandos first bombed a camp on its side of the border. It said the troops came under fire from across the border in Ecuador and encountered Reyes' body when they overran that camp.
Correa called that version an outright lie - "It was a massacre," he said.
Correa denied allegations from a Colombian official that a computer seized Reyes was killed suggested Correa is deepening relations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Colombia's largest rebel group.
The seized computer also contained documents that suggest Venezuela recently paid $300 million to FARC and that the rebels had appeared interested in buying uranium, Colombia's police chief said Monday. Another document suggests that rebels have had financial ties with Chavez since 1992, when he was jailed for leading a coup attempt.