Despite the fact that countries like Paraguay and Chile claim to respect
Colombia’s right to make its own decisions, not one of the South
American presidents — speaking at the UNASUR summit in Argentina —
supports Colombia’s decision to allow the U.S. access to its military
Colombia’s fiercest opponents at the summit, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, rejected Colombia’s plan vociferously.
Venezuelan President Chavez, who said he had had access to a U.S. military document wherein Colombia was designated as a transport hub in case of U.S. military intervention in South America, demanded talks with Obama to talk about this supposed intervention strategy.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, an ally of Chavez, rejected any U.S. military presence in South America. “For the sake of the sovereignty of our people I ask Unasur and its Presidents to sign a document that tells our leaders not to accept any military base of the United States or any foreign country.”
Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador accused Colombia of terrorizing its neighbors and had expressed earlier he fears U.S. military support for Colombia could increase the latter’s aggressiveness towards neighbors.
“Ecuador and the other neighbors are victims of the Colombian problem, we have not caused it,”Correa said. “Drug trafficking is the trafficking of narcotics, it is not the countries who are not acting in my interest or who do not sympathize with me, but [Colombia] accused Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, even Fidel Castro of being drug traffickers, so later they will call us drug traffickers and bomb us in the name of this fight,” the Ecuadorean Head of State said.
“The problem is how you define drug trafficking, because sometimes it is not the trafficking, but those I don’t like or who are against my interests or the governments I wish to discredit,” Correa continued.
Colombia also received criticism from countries outside the “Bolivarian triangle.”
Brazil reminded Uribe of what he said before. “If these bases have existed since 1952 already and still they haven’t solved the problem, it seems to me we should reconsider and think what other things we can do together to solve the problems.”
Both Paraguay and Chile reiterated their respect for Colombia’s self determination, but said they were not convinced the bases would not be used to violate the sovereignty of other countries in South America.
Even Peru, whose conservative government so far had expressed the least criticism of Colombia’s plans, showed concern and reservation. “If they are going to construct a base to have invisible C-17 bombers that can overfly South America without being detected or if they are going to construct radars in Colombia that make them able to listen to what we are talking about through telephones here in Bariloche, I would be very tempted to reject that they do this,” President Alan Garcia said.
However, “if on the contrary they will receive transport support solely for Colombian skies, it doesn’t sound like a threat to me, because it would have nothing to do with the international deployment of a superpower,” Garcia added.
What alarms us at this moment is that, while wanting to build a continent, a global point of reference, a block that — why not — could compete with Europe, Asia and the United States, we could see ourselves as part of the strategy of other blocks.”
The meeting is expected to last the rest of the day.