Source: New York Times
December 10, 2009
Report by Reuters, editing by Anthony Boadle
U.S. intelligence from inside Ecuador was used to plan a 2008 bombing by Colombian troops that killed a top FARC guerrilla chieftain inside Ecuadorean territory, the government said on Thursday.
A 130-page report prepared by the Ecuadorean government says U.S. forces then based in the Pacific coast town of Manta helped Colombian troops target Raul Reyes, No. 2 commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The March 2008 bombing, carried out in an Ecuadorean border area called Angostura, triggered a diplomatic crisis in the region. Ecuador and Colombia are just now re-establishing diplomatic ties severed by Quito after the raid.
Ecuador has since ended its Manta cooperation agreement, prompting Washington to sign a deal with Colombia in October allowing U.S. forces to carry out anti-drug operations from seven Colombian military bases.
“The strategic intelligence processed at the base in Manta was fundamental in tracking down and locating Raul Reyes as the primary target,” the report says. “The Manta pact, aimed at controlling drug trafficking, went beyond its purpose.”
Several left-leaning Latin American governments object to the new U.S.-Colombia pact. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez warns it could set the stage for a U.S. invasion of his country.
Washington and Bogota dismiss the charge, saying the pact is aimed at fighting the cocaine trade and criminal groups within Colombia. The FARC, branded a terrorist organisation by Washington, is funded by drug trafficking and extortion.
“It is evident that the installation at Manta was used for different actions,” the report says. “The areas they covered were dugs, migration and providing information and logistical support for military strategies, in this case aimed at illegal armed movements in Colombia.”
Colombia, Washington’s main ally in the region, has long accused its neighbours Venezuela and Ecuador of not doing enough to help it fight the FARC. Colombia protested on Wednesday after the rebels were lauded at a forum in Caracas.
At a conference of left-wing groups, a video message was broadcast from FARC commander Alfonso Cano. It was not clear whether Chavez officials attended or supported the event.