Should South American countries be worried about an increased US military presence in Colombia
Colombian Prime Minister Alvaro Uribe has signed an agreement allowing the US to use seven military bases within Colombia. Other countries such as Venezuela Brazil and Peru are much more concerned remembering US support of military dictatorships. Are they right to be concerned about the climate of unease or is their concern uncalled for?
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The US's presence in Colombia after being in Panama and forced out of Ecuador is a reminder that they are clinging on to the Monroe Doctrine a centuries old doctrine that says that the USA has a supposed right to interfere in South America whenever it is in it's interest to do so. What's more its If the USA does not recognise the supposed Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet bloc countries then why should it be acting in a way that says there is a sphere of influence for the US in South America
The cooperation between both countries is a part of a national plan called "Colombia Plan" (Plan Colombia in spanish). This plan has as an objective to stop drug trafficking and terrorism within Colombia's borders. In order for the US troops to be operating in Colombia, they needed permission of not only the President but also the Congress and the Senate. Critics against the agreement are just a strategy to keep the international community busy on other subjects and not on the crisis in Venezuela, where president Chavez is constantly violating human rights.
These aresome reasons why South America should not be worried:
1.- US troops will be under the command of Colombian officers.
2.- The bases were US troops will be working are Colombian, they are not US bases.
3.- Us troops will only operate within Colombia's borders.
4.- The reason why US troops are in Colombia is because they are helping Colombia's Army in the battle against organized terrorism and drug trafficking.
Adds fuel to quietly raising conflict
The agreement between the US and Colombia has been conducted in a time of uncertainty about just what Colombia and the USA's intentions are the region. Relations between Colombia within the area such as have deteriorated badly and especially with it's neighbours. Relations Venezuela since last year with Colombia accusing Venezuela of providing logistical support and a safe haven to Marxist guerilla's terrorists the FARC, something which Venezuela has repeated denies. It has bombed an alleged base in Northern Ecaudor something that lead to Ecuador cutting all diplomatic ties
Added to that Colombia is locked in a number of territorial disputes with it's neighbours including over the Las Monjes islands and with Nicaragua . These conflicts are ideologically charged given that the left leaning nature of the governments in Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua as opposed to the more "conservative" government.
The US may not be out to cause trouble in Latin America but with that having been said they are going into an area which is
The relations between Colombia and the US are more than clear. Colombia is one of the most prosperous countries in the region. Colombia and the US have not only signed a Free Commerce Treaty but they are also working together to end drug trafficking and terrorism within Colombia´s borders.
Relations between Venezuela and Colombia have worsened because Chavez is the one constantly threatening Colombia. What has been proven are all the weapons made in Sweden and sold to Venezuela in FARC's hands. Also the links between FARC and some top officials of the Venezuela Government found in Raul Reyes's laptop. For those who doesn't know Raul Reyes was one of the leaders of FARC, but he was killed in the bombing of the FARC's base in Ecuador.
The problem is not the US presence in Colombia but the constant paranoia Venezuela and other governments of the region have, blaming the US for all their problems while they have been more than incapable of solving them.
Risks sucking other countries into a drugs war
The United States War against the drug cartels in South America and Colombia has caused a lot of problems both for Colombia and other countries in South America in the past, rather like US involvement in other countries over the Vietnam War. An renewed expansion of this war could hit countries that are trying to develop systems for themselves.
Over these last 8 years, Colombian government have constantly worked to stop FARC's activities in the region. Colombia's government have been more than efficient in this task. Having killed almost all FARC's leaders, these insurgent group is now weaker than ever.
US presence in the region responds to this situation. Colombia and the US are working together to stop drug trafficking and terrorism and bring to justice all members of FARC.
This is an example of how countries can help each other in solving these important issues like terrorism and drug trafficking.
What is really creating tensions are the critics and speculations other left-winged governments of the region have regarding US presence in Colombia.
No real change in the situation
The US has had bases in South America so there is no real change in position. Until recently it was authorised to use a base in Manta in Ecuador until the Ecuadorean government decided not to renew the lease on the base .The US has had bases in South America so there is no real change in position. Until recently it had bases in Manta in Ecuador. Furthermore the US has been conducting anti drug activities in Colombia for quite some time as demonstrated by a recent presidential memo authorising the continued interception of aircraft suspected of drug smuggling with the Colombian governments approval and nothing else. [[ "White House Press Office Presidential Memorandum regarding drug interdiction assistance to Colombia" http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Memorandum-regarding-drug-interdiction-assistance-to-Colombia/%5D%5D. In fact a state department spokesman said that the position was not an extension of the US military presence but merely a codification of what's going on there.
If anything it's Chavez who's doing all the threatening
Looking at Hugo Chavez's recent rhetoric it seems to be him who's doing the saber rattling not anyone else despite their concerns. Take his most recent quote warning that: " The winds of war were beginning to blow " across the region Although tensions are high internally Chavez seems to be wanting to pick a fight with Colombia with his bellicose rhetoric about war [[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8194497.stm]].
What do you think?