South America Wary of U.S.-Colombia Base Deal

South America Wary of U.S.-Colombia Base Deal

"Winds of war have begun to blow," Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said early this month at a meeting in Quito, with his typical flair for the dramatic.

Chávez's rhetoric may be more provocative than those of other South American leaders, but many of them clearly share his concern about an agreement that could grant the United States military greater access to seven Colombian bases. The polemical debate has pitted the majority of Latin America against the United States, highlighting the Obama administration's failure to deliver on its promise (.pdf) for a "New Partnership for the Americas."

At a Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) summit meeting in Bariloche, Argentina, on Aug. 28 to discuss the controversial agreement, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe defended the military assistance as necessary to fight the leftist guerrilla group known as the FARC and to suppress the illegal drug trade.

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