Brazil, Spain question US Colombia bases
July 31, 2009
Brazil, Chile and Spain challenged the United States' decision to use and expand military bases in Colombia, saying they feared the move could heighten simmering tensions in Latin America.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Michelle Bachelet of Chile said in Sao Paulo they would put the issue before an August 10 meeting of a nascent South American Defence Council in Ecuador.
Spain's foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, simultaneously told reporters in Brasilia that they would demand explanations from Washington over the bases.
The Colombian government's announcement July 15 that three of its military air bases were to be used by the United States as part of joint anti-drug operations has ignited concerns and anger among Colombia's neighbours.
Venezuela and its ally Ecuador have warned the move could aggravate already deep tensions with Colombia.
The two almost went to war last year against Colombia over a raid its army made into Ecuador to destroy a FARC rebel camp.
Venezuelan's fiercely anti-US president, Hugo Chavez, said he viewed the bases as sign a "Yankee military force" was preparing to invade his country from Colombia.
Chavez this week signed deals with Russia reinforcing military ties that have already seen him acquire new tanks, combat helicopters and fighter jets.
He also on Tuesday froze diplomatic links to Colombia over allegations from Bogota that weapons Venezuela bought from Sweden in the 1980s ended up in the hands of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).