Latin America Advisor Reporter Elisabeth Burgess interviewed Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza lasat week. Below are Parts I and II of excerpts from the interview, published in the daily newsletters of the Inter-American Dialogue. Latin America Advisor: I'd like to talk about the crisis in the Andes. Yesterday
Jose Miguel Insulza: I don't like the "Andean crisis" expression. I've read it a lot in the US press, and it makes me nervous ...
LAA: So, how would you refer to the situation?
Insulza: Well, "the problems" between Ecuador and Colombia. The problems with Venezuela are different.
LAA: Yesterday [last Wednesday] Colombia and Ecuador decided to cooperate in defense and police issues [on their shared border]. How do you view this agreement?
Insulza: Well, we've promoted it. I see it very positively, and we'll keep advancing the issue.
LAA: Do you think it will lead to the restoration of diplomatic relations?
Insulza: Yes, eventually. When there's more trust and the resentment [caused by] the March 1 event [is gone], they'll return to that.
LAA: It seems like one of the challenges to restore diplomatic relations is allegations of support by Venezuela and Ecuador for [Colombia's FARC rebels]. If these allegations are proven, what role could the OAS play?
Insulza: Look, in the first place, I think that, beyond that fact that the problems are similar, the truth is that the allegations regarding Ecuador are definitively less than regarding Venezuela ... With respect to [Venezuela], it's of course Colombia's job to decide what it wants to do. And I find it almost funny that people consider demanding that the OAS do something, when neither Colombia nor anybody, nobody has asked the OAS to do itthat is, that the OAS should act on its own, in an autonomous fashion without the protagonists asking. This is contrary to the essence of an organization of states. An organization of states acts at the behest of the member states.
LAA: What does the fact that no country has raised the issue in the OAS say about governments' willingness to address the most serious issues in the Hemisphere?
Insulza: I don't want to judge that. But, I don't believe that the best way to address the challenges is through open conflict. It's better to address it through diplomacy and dialogue, and for that the OAS is very useful.
LAA: In your view, what would be the most positive solution to the allegations that Venezuela has supported the
Insulza: I think it is good for the allegations to be clarified ... I understand that Colombia plans to do this by turning the evidence over to all of the different countries' judicial branches. That's their decision. Now, if they turn it over to the OAS, I assure you I know what I will do with it. But first they have to turn it over to me.
LAA: What are you going to, what would you do?
Insulza: I will do it when they turn it over to me. I'm not going to get ahead ... But they haven't given me a single paper. I have just as many papers as you have. Would you dare, with the documents you've seen, begin an investigation? I wouldn't dare begin an investigation with the things I read in the newspapers. They haven't given me a single paper. Not a single one. I understand that they won't hand over the Ecuador papers, I understand, because of Colombia's and Ecuador's problems, but of the Venezuelan ones they haven't presented me with a single one.