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Thread: Uribe Agrees US "Access" to Military Bases

  1. #1

    Default Uribe Agrees US "Access" to Military Bases

    As the US is forced to leave its base at Manta in Ecuador Colombia offers 3 bases and more. I wonder how much Uribe and co were paid? The locals (with out US bases) are doing better than with the 'help' of the DEA in discovering and closing the cocaine factories anyway.

    COLOMBIA: Uribe Agrees US "Access" to Military Bases
    By Constanza Vieira

    BOGOTA, Jul 17 (IPS) - With parliament in recess, the Colombian government of Álvaro Uribe confirmed that it would give the United States access to at least three military bases.

    "It sounds to me like the U.S. is planning to increase its overall military and paramilitary engagement in the Colombian conflict," said Wilbert van der Zeijden, a researcher on militarism and globalisation at the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam.

    Van der Zeijden, who is also executive coordinator of the Netherlands-based International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases (or No Bases Network), did not rule out the possibility that U.S. forces "plan to engage in on-the-ground military missions together with the Colombian national army".

    On Thursday, the United States began to pull its troops out of the Manta air base on Ecuador's Pacific coast, where U.S. operations were set to end Friday. The base was leased to the U.S. air force in 1999 for use in counter-drugs activities in the northwestern area of South America, and left-wing Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has refused to renew the lease.

    The Colombian government said on Wednesday that it was about to sign an agreement to expand military cooperation with the U.S., giving the Department of Defence access to three military bases, although analyst of military affairs Alfredo Rangel put the number at five.

    The right-wing Uribe administration mentioned the bases at Malambo near the Caribbean coast in the north, Apiay in the south-central part of the country, and Palanquero, the main air base, in central Colombia, for which the U.S. government of Barack Obama already earmarked 46 million dollars for upgrading in 2010.

    According to the government, the agreement is not new, but merely a reformed and updated version of the decades-old military cooperation between the two countries, which will be in effect for 10 years, like the Manta base agreement between Washington and Quito that expires in November.

    Colombia is the third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world, after Israel and Egypt.

    The U.S.-financed multi-billion-dollar Plan Colombia, initially presented as an anti-drug strategy but later described also as a counterinsurgency plan against the 45-year-old FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), has been operating since January 2000.

    The U.S. classifies the FARC as a terrorist and drug trafficking organisation.

    The Colombian government is trying to get the U.S. to limit its funding cuts for Plan Colombia, which has enabled it to fight the leftist rebels from the air and to expand the deployment of land troops.

    Under Plan Colombia, a maximum of 800 military "advisers" and 600 "civilian contractors" may be stationed in this civil war-torn South American country. The Plan's centre of operations is the Tres Esquinas base in the south of the country.

    The Uribe and Obama administrations say the updated agreement will not imply an increase in the caps on the number of U.S. military or civilian personnel in Colombia.

    Resistance to the agreement on the U.S. use of Colombian bases came not only from the opposition but also from members of the Council of State and pro-Uribe members of Congress, who argued that it could undermine national sovereignty.

    In response, the government said the agreement "was still being discussed."

    The executive branch did not inform the Council of State - which under the constitution must previously rule on the legality of a military treaty of this kind, although its decision is not binding - until Thursday.

    Rafael Ostau de Lafont, the president of the Council of State, said the meeting with the government officials was merely "informative" and added that in such cases, the constitution stipulates that other branches of the state, such as the judiciary, must also have a say.

    Pro-Uribe Senator Jairo Clopatofsky said he would call the government to take part in a debate on the issue as soon as the legislature convenes on Monday, Jul. 20.

    The debate would not question the military cooperation in and of itself, said Clopatofsky, but would underscore that the Senate has authority over foreign troop movements in the country.

    The Colombian constitution requires prior consultation with the Council of State and prior approval by the Senate before foreign troops can be allowed into the national territory.

    Senator Juan Manuel Galán, who like Clopatofsky is a member of the Senate commission on foreign policy and national defence, complained that the government had "bypassed the Senate."

    The president himself argued that "Securing agreements with countries like the United States, in order for them to help us in the battle against terrorism and drug trafficking, is the best thing for this country."

    U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield said Thursday that the U.S. would not be acquiring bases but would merely be gaining increased access to Colombian bases.

    Describing the Colombian military as the most "sophisticated" armed forces in Latin America, Brownfield said this country does not need new bases. "They have their bases. This is a question of access."

    He said the Colombian government would authorise "each and every mission - 100 percent," and that as Plan Colombia stipulates, "each mission will include a representative of the Colombian government – the police or armed forces – aboard the planes, and the missions will have specific, explicit authorisation from the Colombian government."

    Acting Defense Minister General Freddy Padilla, who is the chief of the armed forces, said the air force generals would still be in command at the bases where the U.S. troops will be stationed.

    The news that the United States would be shifting its activities from the Manta base in Ecuador to Colombia was confirmed on Apr. 14 by Brownfield during a visit by Uribe to Venezuela.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was not pleased about earlier reports that U.S. operations were to be transferred to a base on Colombia's border with Venezuela, in the northern peninsula of La Guajira.

    At a joint press conference with Chávez in Caracas, Uribe said that "no one in Colombia is authorised to make statements of this kind that mention the world 'Manta'."

    "This is a question of cooperation between two countries (Colombia and the United States) to combat drug trafficking," he added.

    While Uribe downplayed the issue on his visit to Colombia's second-biggest trading partner, General Padilla in Bogotá said "the absence of a base (Manta) that was providing an enormous service in the fight against drug trafficking, among other missions, will have to be filled somehow."

    The general told the Caracol Radio station at the time that he was talking about "participation that would be effective and vigorous, but within 21st century parameters." He said it would not be a repeat of the way things were done at Manta, and that the bases in Colombia would be used "logistically."

    On Thursday, Padilla said that at the Colombian bases, the U.S. forces would be dedicated to activities "like providing technical maintenance in support of Colombia, such as on the Black Hawk helicopters," because "we do not have enough Colombian staff" for such tasks.

    The "access" agreement provides immunity from Colombian laws for U.S. military personnel posted in this country.

    "Once you allow the U.S. military into your country, it is often difficult to keep them in check - they are likely to expand their operations whether or not these operations fall under the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) signed," van der Zeijden commented to IPS in April.

    "We should not forget that military bases are usually inhabited mostly by young men, who get bored and frustrated, being far from home, family, friends and girlfriends/wifes. They seek 'diversion' in town," he pointed out.

    "The result has been a steep increase in all sorts of crime, including rape, drugs, theft and violent abuse," he said.

    In Ecuador, "the base led to a sharp increase of prostitution in Manta," he added.

    "By staying so close to the U.S., Colombia is more and more isolated in Latin America. This cannot be good for its economical position in the region either," said the expert.

    The fact that the government was negotiating U.S. "access" to Colombian bases only came out in April. It turned out that on Mar. 5, then defence minister Juan Manuel Santos, who had expressed his opposition to the idea, had unexpectedly offered U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen "to expand the facilities in several air bases."

    At a summit of the leaders of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela in La Paz on Thursday, Bolivian President Evo Morales said any politician who allowed U.S. troops into their country "is a traitor to his country, a traitor to his fatherland." (END/2009)
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  2. #2
    Mark Stapleton Guest

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    It looks like Columbia's relations with Venezuela and several other South American countries are breaking down quickly. At this rate they could be at war before Monday's summit in Quito.


    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/am...842998630.html


    Seems like there's no end to America's global malevolence. Is Obama a fool? It's starting to look so.

  3. #3

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    All this was put in place well before he was even thought of for president. However, he is doing NOTHING to stop it. Let alone reverse it. They have no business there as they have no business in Afghanistan or any where else. But it wouldn't be an Empire if they just stayed home.
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  4. #4
    Mark Stapleton Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Magda Hassan View Post
    All this was put in place well before he was even thought of for president. However, he is doing NOTHING to stop it. Let alone reverse it.
    He's the Prez so it's up to him. Hope he doesn't turn out to be a fool.

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