Ecuador strongly criticized the Organization of American States, OAS, for having speedily accepted a special session request from Colombia to address the alleged existence of Colombian guerrilla groups in Venezuelan territory which led to a major diplomatic and political situation between the neighbouring countries.
Quito had requested the postponement of the session, which triggered the rift between Caracas and Bogotá and ended with the breaking of diplomatic relations, to consult other country members about the very delicate nature of the issues to be addressed.
“I insist, in the letter sent by the government of Ecuador to OAS Secretary General, I told him that the issue should not be discussed in such a precipitous manner, but let’s change precipitous for irresponsible. This is the result of not paying attention to what is going on in the region”, said Ecuadorean Foreign Affairs minister Ricardo Patiño talking with the press.
“Unfortunately who was called to avoid the severing of diplomatic relations and who was also warned about what could happen was not up to his duty. And that gentleman is OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza”, added Patiño.
Venezuelan president Chavez announced Thursday the breaking of relations with Bogotá after claims Venezuelan territory was being used as a haven by Colombian guerrillas and following a request from Colombia for OAS to send an international mission to corroborate the existence of the claimed guerrilla camps.
Chavez decision was described by the Colombian government of outgoing president Alvaro Uribe as a major “historic error”.
This is not the first time that the neighbouring countries that share 2.000 kilometres of border have been at the verge of a diplomatic rift. The previous one was in 2009 when Chavez ordered the freezing of bilateral trade to reject a renewed and expanded military accord between Bogotá and Washington which the Venezuelan president said “would lead to war in the region”.
Meantime from Caracas and Quito it was reported that Venezuela had requested an “emergency meeting” of UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) Council of foreign affairs ministers. Ecuador currently holds the pro-tempore chair of Unasur.
The extraordinary meeting is “with the purpose of denouncing the very grave aggressions of the Colombian government against Venezuelan sovereignty” said the official release from Caracas. “This new aggression creates the atmosphere for a very dangerous escalation”, warned Chavez.
Meantime in Mexico City Colombian president-elect Juan Manuel Santos said “our best contribution is no pronunciation on the Venezuela issue since President Uribe is still president, until August 7”.
Chavez also revealed during a political rally that he had received phone calls from the Brazilian president Lula da Silva, “always concerned about these things” and from Nestor Kirchner, Unasur president, “also very much concerned”. Similarly he had been on the phone with Uruguayan president Jose Mujica.
At the end of the emergency session that ended with the diplomatic rupture, OAS Secretary General Insulza called on both sides “to calm souls and help find a way out”.
Insulza said he hoped Venezuela and Colombia “can also overcome this crisis” and “find an understanding in the coming days”
OAS is always ready and willing to help but the initiative must come from the governments in Caracas and Bogotá.