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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Latin America shows the rest of us how it's done (as opposed to the way the U.S. would have liked it to turn out)
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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Latin America shows the rest of us how it's done (as opposed to the way the U.S. would have liked it to turn out)

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe (R)
and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
talk after they agreed to resolve the crisis
set off by an attack on a FARC guerrilla
camp inside Ecuadorian territory by the
Colombian armed forces last week at the
20th Group of Rio Summit in Santo
Domingo March 7, 2008.

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

the u.s. wanted a clear branding of the farc rebels as "terrorists," and for colombia to square off with ecuador and venezuela by insisting that, just like their patron, the united states, colombia would pursue "terrorists" wherever, whenever and however was necessary to annihilate them, even if it meant violating another country's sovereignty to do it... instead, the latin american countries decided to do it THEIR way with the result being that the farc rebels are now labeled as an "insurgency" rather than as "terrorists," colombia apologized to ecuador for violating its border and said it wouldn't follow through on its threat to seek genocide charges against venezuela at the hague, committed all the countries to work together to preserve national stability, and ended with the president of colombia and the president of ecuador shaking hands...

and THAT, folks, is how it's done...

South America moved away from talk of war as the presidents of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador agreed to end a bitter dispute triggered by a Colombian cross-border raid with testy handshakes and an apology.

After intense regional diplomacy and emotional debate, Latin American leaders Friday approved a declaration resolving to work for a peaceful end to the crisis, which saw Venezuela and Ecuador send troops to their borders and Colombia accuse its neighbors of backing leftist rebels seeking to topple its government.

The leaders at the summit in the Dominican Republic wasted little time in reversing their steps toward conflict.

Colombia pledged not to follow through on its threat to seek genocide charges against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at an international court for allegedly supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which finances its insurgency through kidnapping and the cocaine trade.

Nicaragua said it would restore diplomatic relations with Colombia, broken off only the day before. Chavez said trade with Colombia should "keep increasing," two days after saying he didn't want even "a grain of rice" from his neighbor.

"We're going to begin to de-escalate," Chavez said. "Hopefully this compromise will be honored so this never happens again."

The statement approved by the presidents notes that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe apologized for the March 1 raid inside Ecuadorean territory that killed 25 people including a senior rebel commander, and that he pledged not to violate another nation's sovereignty again.

But it also commits all the countries to fight threats to national stability from "irregular or criminal groups," a reference to Colombia's accusation that its two neighbors have ties to rebels.

latin american countries have their problems, no doubt about it, lots of them, in fact... but i've always maintained that, if they could just figure out how to work together, they would be an unstoppable global force with a tremendous potential for making a positive difference in the world...

what just took place in la republica dominicana is an event of truly historic proportions that should be held up as a model for what ought to be happening in the rest of the world, most notably in the near and middle east... i've never been prouder of being a part-time resident of latin america than i am today...

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