Colombia Rebels Declare War on United States 

Colombia Rebels Declare War on United States 
Posted by FoM on March 01, 2000 at 09:41:36 PT
Reuters International
Source: Reuters
A top Communist rebel chieftain declared "war" on the United States on Tuesday, vowing to fight against foreign "intervention" and a proposed U.S. package of $1.6 billion in mostly military aid.Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) warlord Raul Reyes made the tough remarks less than a week after returning from a month-long tour of Europe to rally support for year-old negotiations to end this nation's long-running conflict.
"The role of the FARC is to fight alongside the Colombian people and we have the task of helping them defend ... against intervention by a foreign power," he said.Reyes was speaking to reporters in a safe haven in southeast Colombia the size of Switzerland that was cleared of government troops to create a forum for peace talks."This is a declaration of war against the United States," he added. Reyes did not spell out what means the FARC would employ to fight the United States.Not did he say whether his threat would extend to arming peasants in southern Colombia, whose illegal drug plantations are due to be targeted by a newly inaugurated, U.S.-funded Colombian Army anti-drug battalion.Washington has about 250 personnel, including military, in Colombia at any given time. About 28,000 U.S. citizens reside in Colombia, according to figures from the U.S. Consulate.The Soviet-inspired FARC, Latin America's largest surviving 1960s rebel army with some 17,000 fighters nationwide, has repeatedly voiced opposition to a buildup of U.S. aid.In a proposal still to be approved by the U.S. Congress, Washington plans to grant a record $1.6 billion over the next two years to help Colombia fight narco-traffickers and Marxist rebels, who allegedly fund their uprising with profits from the drug trade.Critics say the plan will drag the United States deep into Colombia's civil conflict, which has claimed more than 35,000 lives in just the last 10 years.Reyes' comments on Tuesday contrasted with his smooth talk during his European tour with other rebel leaders.There he wooed Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, Swiss, Spanish and French politicians and business and labor leaders, frequently reiterating the FARC's commitment to a peaceful solution of the war.On return to Colombia on Friday, Reyes even said he would like to go on a tour of the United States, where the FARC is listed as a top "terrorist" organization.In a comment two years ago, another regional FARC warlord warned the rebels would attack U.S. personnel in Colombia but failed to follow through on the threat.The U.S. Embassy lists Colombia as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for U.S. citizens. But White House anti-drug director Barry McCaffrey played down the risk of rebel attacks on ordinary U.S. citizens in Colombia when he visited Bogota last week."This is a dangerous country. ... But fortunately Americans can still live down here," he said.  Bogota (Reuters) Published: February 29, 2000Copyright  1995-2000 Excite Inc. Related Articles:GOP: Clinton Drug Plan in Trouble Rebels Want to Visit United States
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on March 01, 2000 at 10:16:20 PT
Playing right into FARC's hands
God, how can the US be so *dumb*?In attempting to intervene in Colombia's affairs, we have just stirred a more dangerous dynamic to life than any paltry ideology. It's called 'nationalism'. FARC is now free to rally the campesinos, not around some anemic form of Marxism, but around the idea that La Patria is being threatened by El Norte. Just like in Vietnam. Do you think the peasents there were swooning in anticipation of a Marxist heaven on earth? Come on! They fought us because we were seen as *invaders*, ordering them around, in their own country. After all, if the Mexican military started doing the same thing here, what would *you* do? Kiss them?Our government has made a grave error, here. But we still have time to prevent those aluminum coffins being offloaded at Dover AFB (which is where the majority of our 'brushfire war' or 'low intensity conflicts' casualties arrive home at). All it takes is writing your Congresspeople and Senators and letting them know what I've said here before: There's not one inch of Colombian soil worth a single US soldier's life. It's up to you. 
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