Delegates at the Union of South American Nations’ (UNASUR) Defense Council meeting in Ecuador Friday said that Colombia’s military pact with the U.S. was “positive” for the region, despite the fact that Colombia’s Foreign and Defense Ministers declined to attend the conference.
The members of UNASUR were satisfied with a statement by Colombia – in the form of a letter sent by Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez – about the Andean nation’s military agreement, which allows the U.S. access to Colombian military bases.
Regional leaders had expressed their concern that the agreement might be a threat to sovereignty in Latin America. Venezuela in particular has been very vocal in its criticism of the agreement and broke diplomatic with Colombia in July because of the pact.
Bermudez’s letter sought to reassure the delegates, stressing that the Colombian government had made the agreement public on November 3rd.
Following the meeting Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorin said he was “optimistic” about the military pact, adding that “there were advances over the issue, which was concerning us a lot, in the form of formal guarantees,” WRadio reported Friday.
Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose García Belaunde told the media that “in spite of the absence of Colombia’s ministers, Bogota’s position is positive for the advance of regional security policy”.
Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez and Defense Minister Gabriel Silva decided not to attend the meeting, instead sending a team of lower-ranking diplomats.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said called their absence “inexplicable, a massive mistake and a snub to UNASUR”. Bolivia and Ecuador were also critical of the high-ranking officials’ absence.
The member countries of UNASUR are: Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guayana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela.