US forces helped assassinate top FARC commander in Ecuador

US military intelligence and combat troops helped Colombian forces assassinate a senior leftwing Colombian paramilitary commander on Ecuadoran soil last year, according to an Ecuadoran government report. As this blog reported last month, Colombia’s soon-to-be-dismantled Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad intelligence service admitted it paid “an informant in the Ecuadorean security forces” US$2.5 million to supply information on the whereabouts of Luis Edgar Devia Silva (Raúl Reyes), senior leader in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARCFuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo). Reyes was assassinated along with 16 of his guerillas in a daring raid by Colombian forces, around a mile inside Ecuador’s border, on March 1, 2008.

Now an Ecuadoran government report claims that Reyes’s killing, which sparked the so-called 2008 Andean diplomatic crisis between Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, was conducted with logistical and combat assistance by US forces stationed in Ecuador.

At the time of Reyes’s assassination, the Air Forces Southern air force component of the United States Southern Command was stationed at the Manta Air Base in Manta, Ecuador, tasked with monitoring the region’s airspace for illegal narcotics trafficking. But the 130-page Ecuadoran government report alleges that members of the US force provided the Colombians with “strategic intelligence [that] was fundamental in tracking down and locating Raul Reyes as the primary target”, and thus the US force “went beyond its purpose”.

Following Reyes’s assassination, Ecuadoran President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado fulfilled his pre-election promise to terminate the presence of US forces in Manta, saying that Ecuador “can negotiate with the US about a base in Manta, if they let us put a military base in Miami”.

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