Colombian Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera said Wednesday that the government will abide by the Constitutional Court’s ruling that a military pact signed with the U.S. is not constitutional until ratified by Colombia’s Congress.
Rivera said that the government also plans to study the court’s decision in detail, in the context of international norms and other treaties currently in force.
The defense minister stressed the importance of cooperation between Colombia and the U.S. “which has been developed over decades, in matters of security and defense, and particularly in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.” He added that the court’s decision will not affected any other treaty or agreement between the two countries.
The controversial pact, which allows the U.S. access to at least seven Colombian military bases and civilian airports, was signed by the government of former President Alvaro Uribe in August 2009, but was never approved by the country’s Congress. According to Uribe, the pact was a continuation of existing policy and did not need Congress approval.
The court however disagrees, with Magistrate Mauricio Gonzalez Cuervo stating that the pact “involves new obligations of the Colombian state” and is therefore not merely an extension of existing policy. As a result, the court ruled Tuesday that Colombia can only comply with the military pact if it is approved by the legislative branch. Until then, the deal is unconstitutional.
The military pact caused tensions in the region as neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela consider a U.S. military presence in Colombia a threat to their sovereignty. The pact also caused controversy within Colombia, with leftist opposition party Polo Democratico deeming the deal a violation of the country’s independence and sovereignty.