Opposition Warns: "Colombia Could Be a New Vietnam"

Fears came after the US State Department launched a 150 men operation to release three CIA agents taken hostage by FARC rebels.

Only a few hours after the largest Colombian Marxist rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, admitted their responsibility for the kidnapping of three CIA agents, the US President George W. Bush ordered Special Forces to rescue them. US State Department spokeswoman Amanda Batt has officially made the announcement on Saturday and urged Colombian rebels to immediately free hostages.

FARC forces captured the three CIA agents when the plane they were using for secret operations made an emergency landing in a jungle area under control of the FARC guerrillas. Since February 13, day of the accident, the Colombian Army has sent over 4.000 officers to search for the hostages, without positive results.

Bush made use of his entitlement to enlarge the number of forces in Colombia without previous authorization by the Congress. The US Congress had limited the number of US Army officers in Colombia to 400 through a rule passed in 2001. As per a Washington Post report, with the emergency increasing announced, the total number of US officers in Colombia will go up to 411.

This incident is the most serious conflict between USA and Colombian rebel forces since the beginning of the conflict 38 years ago. The Pentagon currently supports Colombia's Government on its will to disarm marxist guerrillas. According to estimations, the US National Treasury has wired about $ 2 billion to Bogota since 2001 to back anti-guerrilla actions.

The US State Department also confirmed that it is studying retaliations against the FARC, but did not announce any specific measure. Therefore, many voices in Colombia rose against a possible US intervention to the South American country. Relevant personalities of Colombia's cultural and political life warned on a Colombia to become a new Vietnam if the US Government decides to send more troops.

"A foreign military intervention in Colombia must be authorized by the Congress", said former Colombian Foreign Minister, Augusto Ramirez. "USA cannot order military operations in Colombia to rescue kidnapped American citizens, because such action requires a legal permission", added Ramirez, to the local press.

Also, the former candidate for president, Luis Eduardo Garzon, said that a US military intervention would lead to a balkanization of Colombia. In declarations to the local newspaper El Tiempo the General Secretary of the Colombian Communist Party, Jaime Caicedo, said US State Department decision was "unacceptable". "If Bush finally decides to send the 150 soldiers to rescue three hostages, he would violate the international law and Colombia's sovereignty", added Caicedo.

In Washington, the Democrat opposition sees an aggravation of the conflict in Colombia and fears the crisis of the three hostages may give Bush the excuses to invade. The Colombian President Alvaro uribe has asked many times in local and international forums for a US large- scale invasion to Colombia. If something like this happens, then the local Army will have the same role that the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, but as a column on Los Angeles Times reads: Would Americans support the invasion if means dead soldiers as in Vietnam or Somalia?

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