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Tensions Rise in Latin America After Colombia Raid

Since Colombia's announcement Saturday that it had killed a top FARC commander in a cross-border raid into Ecuador, both Ecuador and Venezuela have severed diplomatic ties and moved troops to the Colombian border. Experts discuss the rising tensions in the region.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And speaking of words, there's a war of words in South America, and Margaret Warner has that.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    On Saturday, Colombian soldiers crossed their border to raid a leftist guerilla camp in Ecuador. And, suddenly, troops and tanks were on the move, in an escalating war of words and saber-rattling pitting Colombia against neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela.

    The raid killed 20 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebel group, including senior commander Raul Reyes. Colombia says it also seized Reyes' laptop with incriminating data.

    Ecuador and Venezuela responded by sending troops to their borders with Colombia and breaking diplomatic ties with Bogota.

    Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, denounced the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe.

    RAFAEL CORREA, President of Ecuador (through translator): There is no justification for foreign military action on our territory, whatever the reason may be.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez used the incident to once again lash out at Washington.

    HUGO CHAVEZ, President of Venezuela (through translator): We will support Ecuador in any circumstance. We don't want war, but we will not allow the North American empire, who is the master, and its sub-president, Uribe, and the Colombian oligarchy to divide, to weaken us. We will not allow it.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Other Latin American nations, including Brazil, also criticized Colombia's incursion.

    But in Washington, which provides Colombia billions in anti-drug trafficking aid, President Bush said he'd stand by Uribe. And he had a veiled warning for Chavez.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: We firmly oppose any acts of aggression that could destabilize the region.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Also in Washington, the Organization of American States held an emergency meeting today to discuss the crisis.