Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe considered allowing the U.S. military access to Colombian bases a way to deter possible Venezuelan attacks, a leaked cable from then-Ambassador to Bogota William Brownfield says.
The cable was sent on February 5, 2009, when Colombia and the U.S. were in the midst of negotiating a pact that would allow U.S. armed forces access to at least seven Colombian military bases, but was later ruled unconstitutional by the Colombian constitutional court.
According to Brownfield, “the current negotiations come at a time when to the GOC (government of Colombia) is eager to cement the historically solid US-Colombian bilateral relationship under the new US administration.”
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, and
Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez support strong bilateral ties, and see a
new defense agreement as a critical component of our relationship. The
GOC increasingly views Venezuela as a threat, especially given recent
Venezuelan arms purchases from Russia, and views a defense agreement with
the United States as a deterrent to possible Venezuelan aggression. On
several occasions, Minister of Defense Santos has alluded to the airlift
of supplies from the United States to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur
war and has requested similar "assurances" from the USG in the event of
a conflict with Venezuela.
Despite the Uribe administration’s enthusiasm about a possible pact, the Colombian officials told the Americans that ” the agreement should avoid provoking domestic and regional sensitivities to an enhanced U.S. military presence.”
They have noted that any agreement should avoid use of the word "base" and
should be linked to earlier bilateral and multilateral agreements to avoid
the need for Colombian congressional approval.Senior Colombian officials
have repeatedly stated their intent to avoid an agreement that would
require Colombian congressional approval.
The agreement, made public in November that year, caused great friction in South America and was later declared unconstitutional by the court unless the government received congressional approval of the pact.
Santos became President in August and immediately improved relations with Venezuela. Following the court’s disapproval of the pact, the government made no efforts to have the pact ratified by congress.