Colombia to Take Chavez to Court

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Tuesday that he would denounce Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in an international court in a growing Andean dispute after Venezuela and Ecuador cut diplomatic ties with Bogota and ordered troops to their neighbor's frontier.

Colombia has accused Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa of links to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in a crisis triggered by a Colombian raid inside Ecuador to kill a top guerrilla boss.

"Colombia proposes to denounce the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, in the International Criminal Court for sponsoring and financing genocide," Uribe told reporters.

Uribe's comments upped the ante as Latin America scrambled to defuse a crisis that threatened the region's stability. The Organization of the American States, the region's top diplomatic body, was to meet in Washington on Tuesday to press for a peaceful end to the dispute.

Correa will also start a five-nation tour of the region -- including to leftist ally Venezuela -- to lobby for support against what he calls a premeditated violation of sovereignty.

"This is not a bilateral problem, it's a regional problem," Correa told Mexican television. "Should this set a precedent, Latin America will become another Middle East."

Latin American governments generally lined up to condemn the conservative Uribe for sending troops and warplanes over the border on Saturday in an attack on a jungle camp that killed Raul Reyes, a senior FARC rebel.

But Colombia, the top U.S. ally in Latin America, pressed its campaign for international support by playing up the threat from FARC.

In Geneva, Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos told a United Nations conference that materials found on the slain rebel's computers showed the group planned to make a nuclear "dirty bomb."

FARC was "apparently negotiating for radioactive material, the primary basis for generating dirty weapons of mass destruction and terrorism," he said.

"Terrorist groups, based on the economic power of drug trafficking, constitute a serious threat not to just our country but to the entire Andean and Latin American region."

The accusation came a day after Colombia alleged that Chavez funded FARC rebels, who are waging Latin America's oldest insurgency.

Venezuelan officials dismissed the accusations as a crude attempt to smear Chavez, a vocal opponent of the United States, and urged the international community to focus on Colombia's "aggression."

"Their lies are not going to resonate in the world because the news, the condemnation, the worry in the world ... is that Colombia invaded Ecuador, bombed Ecuador -- that's the news," said Agriculture Minister Elias Jaua, a close Chavez aide.

In the region's worst crisis for years, Chavez and Correa expelled Colombia's diplomats from their capitals and ordered thousands of troops to their borders with Colombia. Chavez also ordered tanks and fighter jets to deploy, warning that war could break out if Colombia struck on Venezuelan soil.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, an ex-guerrilla and ally of Venezuela and Ecuador who has a territorial dispute with Colombia, said Uribe was a threat to Latin America.

The region's diplomatic heavyweight, Brazil, demanded Uribe apologize to Correa. It also worked on the crisis with Argentina, whose president will visit Venezuela on Wednesday.