Bin Laden's death: miracle or murder?

Latin American leaders provide colorful reactions to the secret US operation

From outright rejection of what was described as "a political assassination" by one government and "a miracle from heaven" by another, reactions across Latin America to Osama bin Laden's death have been as mixed as they are colorful. Overall, governments across the region welcomed the United States' secret mission to hunt down and kill the Al Qaeda leader but said they feared more violence was to come.

Leftist leaders in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua condemned the mission, saying that the US Navy Seals violated Pakistani sovereignty by going in without Islamabad's knowledge and assassinating Bin Laden before quickly abandoning the country.

Venezuelan Vice President Elías Jaua accused Washington of using murder "to resolve political problems," calling it a "political assassination."

"It isn't surprising how the United States has made crime and murder so natural and how they celebrate it," Jaua said on Monday. Earlier, President Hugo Chávez said that he would ask the United Nations to condemn the US shelling last week that led to the death of Muammar Gaddafi's youngest son and three grandchildren, calling it "a vile crime" and "act of war."

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was one of many regional leaders to publicly congratulate President Barack Obama, and called on the United States and other countries "to keep up the fight against terrorism."

"It demonstrates that sooner or later terrorists, wherever they are, will be defeated," he said in a statement.

In Peru, President Alan García saw more of a spiritual meaning behind Bin Laden's demise. "The first miracle performed by John Paul II has been to eradicate this demonic incarnation of crime, evil and hate from the face of the Earth," García said in reference to last Sunday's beatification of the late pope. "I think this is great news that should please Mr Obama and in some regards vindicate President George Bush," he continued.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said that Bin Laden "can no longer wage his violent war" against "innocent people" but warned that nations have to be vigilant by any Al Qaeda attempts at revenge.

José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general at the Organization of American States (OAS), said that Pakistan could lodge a protest because of the "invasion of its territory" during the United States' operation but said he believed that "it would be difficult" for them to do so.

"From the standpoint of international law, Pakistan could lodge a protest. But I don't think it will, given the importance of the operation aimed at Bin Laden," he told a Chilean radio station. Insulza added that Latin America must be vigilant to stop any attempts by Al Qaeda to set up a base of operations in the region.

Speaking on behalf of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, his Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno called the operation "an important step in the fight" against international terrorism. He said that all Chileans must understand that the only way to eradicate international crime and terrorism "is through cooperation with other nations."

In Cuba, state media said that Bin Laden's death and the celebrations were meant to "distract attention" from the military intervention in Libya.

The president of Peru, Alan García, and Chile, Sebastián Piñera, who both praised the US operation to hunt down Osama bin Laden.
The president of Peru, Alan García, and Chile, Sebastián Piñera, who both praised the US operation to hunt down Osama bin Laden.AP
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