Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Commission in Search of Peace

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Commission in Search of Peace

Article excerpt

OAS SECRETARY GENERAL Jose Miguel Insulza led a commission to Ecuador and Colombia to meet with leaders from both countries and visit the remote border area in Ecuador where Colombian military and police personnel attacked an encampment of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The trip, which took place March 9-12, came in response to a mandate adopted by the OAS Permanent Council at a special meeting to address the political crisis that arose from the incursion.

"This is a major task that requires the cooperation of all the countries," Insulza explained. "We have to find points of agreement between the governments to definitively ease the crisis that was precipitated in the early morning hours of March 1 on the Colombia-Ecuador border."

Members of the special commission included the Chairman of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Cornelius Smith of the Bahamas, and the Ambassadors of Argentina, Rodolfo Gil; Brazil, Osmar Chohfi; Panama, Aristides Royo; and Peru, Maria Zavala. The commission traveled to Ecuador and Colombia in a Brazilian Air Force plane provided by the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva so that the OAS group could visit both countries as quickly as possible to help resolve the crisis.

Over the four days, the commission met with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in Quito and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in Bogota, as well as government ministers and key members of the military command in both countries. The OAS delegation sought to glean details about the events and hear opinions from a wide range of representatives from both sides, to be able to prepare a balanced report and teach realistic conclusions.

To get a firsthand view of the place the crisis began, the commission traveled by military plane and helicopter to the border area of both countries--Angostura, in a jungle region of Ecuador, and nearby Puerto Ospina, Colombia.

At the site of the bombed encampment, the members of the commission--surrounded by reporters and television cameras--walked among the leveled trees and scattered debris. They spent several hours walking around the site, seeking to find out exactly what happened and better understand the context. In Puerto Ospina, on the Colombian side of the border, the delegation boarded a patrol boat on the San Miguel River and studied maps of the area.

"The commission doesn't have a passive role, but is asking a lot of questions, because as we all know, whenever an event occurs there are always at least two versions," said Argentina's Ambassador Gil. …

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