Colombia’s Defense Minister, Gabriel Silva, has urged neighboring countries to be vigilant regarding terrorism and drug trafficking that may be carried out in their territories.
In an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, Minister Silva said that just as some countries require guarantees of noninterference from Colombia, Colombia wants assurance that its neighbors will not allow bases for the guerrillas and drug trafficking within their borders, reported newspaper El Espectador.
“We need an agreement on guarantees and commitments within UNASUR that these two things will no longer happen,” said Silva in an interview published today by the daily O Estado de Sao Paulo.
When asked about the Colombian military attack on a FARC base in Ecuador in March 2008, Silva added that this commitment would not permit “actions in neighboring territories nor strategic command and control centers of drug trafficking and narcoterrorism in other countries.”
Silva added that neighboring countries have no cause for concern regarding the agreement between Colombia and the United States, which will allow U.S. troops access to seven military bases, since the agreement is founded on “respect for sovereignty in other countries and non-intervention in internal affairs.”
He said that Colombia has not yet been able to submit the agreement to concerned neighboring countries who wish to know specifics because it has not yet been signed.
“I can not send copies of an agreement that is being evaluated by the State Council. Only after the agreement is signed,” said Silva. Furthermore, he said, the posibility of Colombia submitting the text of the agreement to its neighbors depends on the agenda of UNASUR.
“In the Bariloche agreement, UNASUR presidents agreed to discuss all the agreements together, including the fight against drug trafficking, the [zero tolerance policy] regarding the presence of illegal armed groups, and cooperation against arms trafficking and building confidence,” said the Minister. “UNASUR cannot concentrate on only one of the topics. There needs to be symmetry.”
Silva said that his country has never questioned the arrangements for transfer of military technology between France and Brazil because Colombia respects the right of each nation to define its security strategy and international cooperation.
“The advantage is that Brazil and Colombia are democracies and their constituents will define whether the actions of their governments are correct or not. Colombia has a policy of strategic arms purchases for external defense because the people gave a mandate to internal security,” he said.
“Do not threaten [your neighbors] by saying we will bomb your capital in five minutes,” Silva added, in a tacit reference to comments made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.