SANTO DOMINGO, March 6 (Reuters) - Ecuador announced a rare
capture of Colombian guerrillas on Thursday as Latin American
leaders gathered for a summit that will be dominated by a
regional crisis over a cross-border raid by Colombia.
"In an operation by the armed forces, five presumed
guerrillas were found. FARC guerrillas," Security Minister
Gustavo Larrea said about the captures in an Amazonian region
on Ecuador's side of the border with Colombia.
Ecuador, which Colombia has accused of warning the Marxist
rebels about planned raids against them, arrested and
extradited a top FARC leader known as Simon Trinidad in January
2004, but such captures have been rare recently.
Colombia ignited regional tensions when it raided Ecuador's
territory last weekend and killed more than 20 rebels from the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Venezuela and Ecuador have moved troops to their borders
with Colombia, a conservative-led U.S. ally in a region that
has been shifting to the political left, but all sides say they
do not want to go to war.
Venezuela has threatened to limit trade and investment ties
with Bogota. Nicaragua joined Venezuela and Ecuador on Thursday
in cutting off diplomatic relations with Colombia.
Colombia complains that its neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela
-- both oil-exporting nations run by leftists -- have protected
FARC guerrillas whose group has killed thousands of Colombians
over four decades.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who is popular at home
because of his hard line against the guerrillas, said documents
and photos found on computers at the rebel camp bombed at the
weekend proved FARC ties with Ecuador and Venezuela.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez retorts he has only had
contact with the FARC to persuade them to release hostages and
CHAVEZ LEADS CONDEMNATION
Chavez has led the region in general condemnation of
Colombia's violation of Ecuador's sovereignty and the strongly
anti-U.S. leader says the United States is militarizing
Colombia in order to attack Venezuela.
The people of Latin America have to decide between "the
road to war that Uribe wants, backed by Bush, leading us to
more violence, more war, more death, more war between us, or
the road to peace," Chavez said after landing in the Dominican
Republic for Friday's summit.
The United States has backed Colombia, its closest South
American ally and recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. aid
for fighting guerrillas and the cocaine trade.
The leaders of Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and
other Latin American countries were also arriving in the
Caribbean nation on Thursday for the Rio Group summit that had
been planned long before the crisis.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, an ex-guerrilla whose
country is in a territorial dispute with Colombia over small
islands, said he was breaking off relations "in solidarity"
with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who visited Nicaragua
on Thursday before heading for Panama.
"We are breaking with the terrorist politics that Alvaro
Uribe's government is employing," Ortega said.
Mexico has been relatively quiet about the crisis but may
be drawn into the fray as Ecuador's government said it was
investigating whether Mexicans were among the more than 20 dead
in the FARC camp.
Ecuador's Correa hopes to win an explicit condemnation of
Colombia at Friday's summit.
"We want clear answers tomorrow," Correa said in Panama on
Thursday, his sixth stop on a tour of the region to lobby