Colombia defends its military agreement with U.S.
www.chinaview.cn 2009-08-29 04:19:41   Print

    by Alejandra del Palacio

    MEXICO CITY, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Presidents from the member countries of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) discussed on Friday the U.S.-Colombia military cooperation agreement, which has arose concerns among most of South American nations.

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    During the Unasur Extraordinary Summit in Bariloche, Argentina,Colombian President Alvaro Uribe made efforts to justify the agreement, but much in vain.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez (R, front) addresses a summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) on a controversial U.S.-Colombian military agreement in Bariloche, Argentina, Aug. 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Carlos Alvear)

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez (R, front) addresses a summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) on a controversial U.S.-Colombian military agreement in Bariloche, Argentina, Aug. 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Carlos Alvear)
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    CONTROVERSIAL AGREEMENT

    According to the Colombian and the U.S. governments, the agreement, which allows the presence of 800 U.S. soldiers and 600 civilian contractors from the Pentagon or U.S. security organizations for 10 years at Colombian bases, is aimed at combating drug trafficking and terrorism in South America.

    It also gives the United States the access to at least seven Colombian military bases (two aerial and five ground) and in return, Washington would offer Bogota some 5 billion U.S. dollars in aid.

    At the Unasur Summit, Uribe said the agreement does not threaten other Latin American countries. He said relevant provisions in the agreement have made it clear that the U.S. military cannot use Colombian bases to interfere in other countries' internal affairs or undermine their territorial integrity.

    However, the agreement seems to make no clear reference to the situation in the rest of the region. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa proposed that the Unasur hold a meeting with U.S. PresidentBarack Obama to clarify the controversial agreement.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (3rd L) attends a summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) on a controversial U.S.-Colombian military agreement in Bariloche, Argentina, Aug. 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Carlos Alvear)

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (3rd L) attends a summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) on a controversial U.S.-Colombian military agreement in Bariloche, Argentina, Aug. 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Carlos Alvear)
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    Venezuela, which borders Colombia to the north, is the most vehement opponent of the plan. Its president Hugo Chavez on Tuesday instructed the Foreign Ministry to get prepared to sever ties with Bogota.

    Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez said his country shares the need of keeping South America "as a land of peace."

    Vazquez said it is necessary "to combat terrorism and drug trafficking, which are jeopardizing the life quality of the people in the region." However, Uruguay defends the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs.

    Bolivian President Evo Morales proposed that South Americans vote in a continent-wide referendum on the issue. Others, including Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil, supported the Unasur to intervene in the case.

    Brazil also has demanded that the bases not be used to carry out military raids against any other countries.

    Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said "what we agree (here) is a uniform doctrine" for the region, and "if someone else comes up with the decision of establishing (foreign) bases, we cannot have a different criteria."

Leaders and other representatives of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) attend a summit on a controversial U.S.-Colombian military agreement in Bariloche, Argentina, Aug. 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Carlos Alvear)

Leaders and other representatives of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) attend a summit on a controversial U.S.-Colombian military agreement in Bariloche, Argentina, Aug. 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Carlos Alvear)
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COLOMBIAN DEFENSE

    The Colombian government has launched a series of attempts to defend the controversial military agreement with the United States.

    In early August, Uribe made a one-week tour around the region to explain the agreement to his counterparts. At an Aug. 10 Unasur meeting held in Quito, Ecuador, where Uribe was absent, the presidents agreed to hold the Bariloche extraordinary summit for the explanation of and discussion about the agreement.

    The agreement with the United States "is ruled by the Colombian sovereignty principle and the territorial integrity of the states," Uribe said at the extraordinary summit.

    The president argued that his country intends to seek support from other countries to fight the anti-government guerilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

    Due to the internal armed conflict, which has lasted some 40 years, "many generations of Colombians have not lived a single day of peace," Uribe said.

    Colombia and the United States accused the FARC of drug trafficking.

    Uribe criticized some countries in the region for not condemning the FARC as a terrorist group, which they regarded only as "insurgents."

    He also regretted that some countries did not share the demand for rich countries to aid the fight against drug trafficking. 

Editor: Yan
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