Former commander of the Colombian armed forces General Freddy Padilla said Wednesday that U.S. Congress will not ratify its military bases agreement with Colombia.
“If Colombia sends the agreement to Congress, the U.S. will have to send it to theirs as well and what they told us is that … due to their foreign policy circumstances, they wouldn’t be prepared to pass it,” Padilla said.
U.S. organization Just the Facts reports that it consulted with a “responsible Defense Department official” and confirmed that it is not the case that the U.S. would need to ratify the treaty. “As a defense cooperation agreement and not a treaty, signing the Colombia accord is viewed as within the President’s powers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Congressional committees were notified about the accord, but were not required to approve it.”
The general’s comments followed the Colombian Constitutional Court’s ruling that the pact is unconstitutional until ratified by Colombian Congress. By law, if it is ratified by the Andean nation’s Congress, then it must also be ratified by U.S. Congress.
Padilla said that when the pact was signed last year, the administration of then-President Alvaro Uribe considered it “an extension of other agreements” and as a result “did not see the need to send it to Congress.”
“The agreement is excellent for the two countries and for the region … a strategic and positive alliance for Colombia in the fight against drug trafficking, which would give peace of mind to neighbor countries,” Padilla said.
According to Constitutional Court President Mauricio Gonzalez Cuervo, details such as “access points and the use of air bases, free movement within these installations, the freedom to carry arms, among other things” led the court to decide that the agreement was not simply an extension of previous treaties.
Gonzalez said that if Colombian Congress passes the treaty, the Constitutional Court will have to study the approved bill as well.
The military pact caused tensions in the region, as neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela consider U.S. military presence in Colombia a threat to their sovereignty.
The pact was also controversial within Colombia, with leftist opposition party Polo Democratico labelling the pact a violation of Colombian independence and sovereignty.