In a page out of the Israeli playbook, the Columbians killed FARC's "foreign minister," Raul Reyes, in an outpost just inside the Ecuadorian border. Of course, Ecuador didn't appreciate the presence of foreign troops on its soil even if it was just a mile over the border.
The death of Reyes will hurt Farc diplomatically as he was the head of the International Front, the part of the guerrilla movement dedicated to developing foreign contacts and links with like-minded organisations.
During the failed peace process with former president Andres Pastrana which ran from 1998-2002, Reyes headed Farc's negotiating team, based in Los Pozos, a dusty hamlet in the 42,000 sq km safe haven that the government granted to the guerrillas as the venue for talks.
In case you think FARC is Drudge on acid, they're a leftist Columbian rebel group that has effective control of a lot of southern Columbia. Their drug of choice is cocaine and they make a lot of it; using the sales to finance their movement.
The current Columbia president is a pro-US conservative, Alvaro Uribe, who lost his dad to FARC years ago. He got elected and reelected on a tough anti-FARC line.
Columbia is bordered by a couple of hard-left governments in Ecuador and Venezuela, both of who have friendly relations with FARC. Venezuelan strong-man Hugo Chavez has been friendly with FARC, playing a south-of-the-border Jesse Jackson in arranging releases of some FARC captives. Meanwhile, the Ecuadorians kicked out the Columbian ambassador over the border incursion and Chavez is publicly calling for his troops to beef up his border with Columbia.
Would Chavez be dumb enough to pick a fight with Columbia and the US over FARC? He's been struggling in public opinion at home and might want to do some saber rattling with the Yanquis. In answer to the title question, yes he does know saber-rattling all too well.
However, Chavez has to be careful. If he gives FARC outposts inside Columbia any material support or resists any efforts from Columbia to clean up the Venezuelan side of the border, we could have a US-Venezuelan shooting war, which may well disrupt the flow of oil from Venezuela. $4/gallon gas might be feasible if that goes down.
World War I got started over the assassination of the Austrian heir apparent. Could the FARC War start over the assassination of the FARC foreign minister? Stranger things have happened. Pray that it doesn't go that route.