South American leaders Monday suggested to hold an extraordinary UNASUR
meeting to discuss the U.S. military presence in Colombia. The Brazilian
President wants to invite U.S. President Barack Obama to the meeting.
Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula de Silva said the UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) meeting is “very important” and should be attended by Colombian representatives. Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe refused to attend the meeting because he considered it not to be the appropriate place to discuss the military agreement between Colombia and the United States since it is only a deal between two nations.
However, the South American leaders want to discuss the agreement internationally and proposed an extraordinary UNASUR summit in Buenos Aires. Lula suggested to invite the U.S. government “for a deep discussion about its relationship with South America.”
The plan to allow the U.S. use seven Colombian army bases was received with criticism in South America. Leftist governments like that of Venezuela and Ecuador rejected the idea, but also moderate governments like that of Brazil and Chile expressed their concern.
President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, even said that it is the “duty” of UNASUR “to save the Colombian people from the U.S. army.”
Colombian Deputy Foreign Minister, Clemencia Forero, who represents her country at the third UNASUR meeting currently held in Quito, said the agreement only provides limited access to U.S. military in Colombia to fight against drug trafficking.
“There haven’t been any foreign military bases in Colombia and there won’t be any. The bases remain under Colombian jurisdiction and sovereignty,” the minister reiterated.