Summit criticises US-Colombia deal

South American leaders demand that “foreign” troops must not threaten sovereignty.

Unasur members were critical of a deal that could increase US military presence in Colombia [AFP]
Unasur members were critical of a deal that could increase US military presence in Colombia [AFP]

Regional fears

The extraordinary meeting the Argentine mountain resort of Bariloche was called after Venezuela, along with Bolivia and Ecuador, complained that the US military could use seven bases in Colombia as launch points to overthrow their governments.

“The US global strategy for domination explains the installation of these bases in Colombia,” Chavez said, holding up a document he said set out the US air force strategy to achieve that aim.

An attempt by Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, to get other leaders to sign a declaration rejecting the US deal with Colombia was rejected.

“As long as there are uniformed foreigners in a South American country, it’s difficult for us to think there can be peace,” he had told the summit.

Colombia has insisted that the US troops are vital to tackle drug trafficking in the region and pose no threat to its neighbours.

Uribe told the summit on Friday that he would “not cede one millimetre of sovereignty” under the deal.

“We are not talking about a political game, we are talking about a threat that has spilled blood in Colombian society.”

US expansion

But Eva Golinger, a consultant to the Venezuelan government, told Al Jazeera that the US military deployment was not necessary.

“It has been made clear in other US documents this year, particularly one on irregular warfare, about the need not to have permanent troops stationed in any one country but to have this type of mobility which allows for effective non-conventional military operations – so that’s the fear,” she said.

“The fear comes in the form of territorial occupation of US military forces or an access to the entire infrastrucure of Colombia for an alleged war against drugs and that doesn’t pan out.”

Under the plan, about 300 US troops are already stationed in the country, but the new agreement allows the expansion of the force to 800 US soldiers and 600 civilian officials.

Many Latin American nations are wary of US intervention in the region, recalling Washington’s backing of right-wing military governments in the past.

Brazil, Chile and Argentina have demanded binding guarantees be made that the US military assets and personnel in Colombia not be used for any other purpose other than their stated mission of fighting drug-traffickers and Colombian rebels.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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