04 November 2009

Columbia Military Pact : The Yanks are Coming

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe defends military pact with U.S. Photo from AFP.

U.S. and Columbia:
Military pact signed in 'private' meeting
Over There, Over There
Send the word, send the word,
Over There
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum tumming everywhere...
By Marion Delgado / The Rag Blog / November 4, 2009

CARTAGENA, Columbia -- Well, it finally happened. U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield and three Colombian governmental ministers -- Jaime Bermudez the Foreign Minister (same as Secretary of State), Defense Minister Gabriel Silva, and Attorney General Fabio Valencia -- inked the deal in a secret (they called it “private”) ceremony in Bogota on Friday.

What was first described as a “military pact” was opposed by the Colombian State Council (the Cabinet), the Colombian Congress, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of the Americas (ALBA), the countries of Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and of course Venezuela. It has been in the works for four months (that we know of). It is now a done deal.

It provides for seven U.S. operations bases scattered throughout the country, a total of 1400 troops (although U.S. law limits it to 800) and 600 contractor/mercenaries, all with diplomatic immunity from Colombian law. There’s more but nobody knows what ‘cuz it’s secret. The public part of the agreement will be published in the Federal Record in 30 days according to a spokesman for H. Clinton.

The week opened on Monday with a two day visit from U.S. Secretary of War Robert Gates. On Wednesday Colombian Foreign Minister Bermudez announced that it wasn’t a military pact after all, but an addendum to a 2004 U.S./Colombian “drug war” agreement and so wouldn’t need the approval of the Colombian Congress anyway.

It all started when Ecuador refused to re-up on a pact to let the U.S. use an air base at Manta in their country. The lease ran out in June. The operations were shifted to bases that the U.S. has in Aruba and Curacao in the Dutch ABC islands. That wasn’t good enough, as always they need more. That set off the go-around.

First they needed three air bases in Colombia, the congress said no! So, then they needed five bases, again resistance, no joy there. Then seven bases… No! How about four? Every day it was a different number. When Bermudez said they didn’t need congressional approval it quickly went back to seven and that’s what they got, three air bases, two naval bases, and two army bases. We don’t know where yet, because they changed the proposed locations from time to time during the squabble.

We know one will become part of the Paloquemado Air Base in the Magdalena River Delta; the U.S. already has a 46 million dollar construction project going there to make the base “safer.” Colombia got 14 million to sign the deal on top of the 16 BILLION dollars that they already got under Plan Colombia, (now known as Plan Uribe).

Cartagena has been mentioned as possibly one of the seaports. The base in Cartagena already plays host to a couple of Coast Guard cutters. We got ‘em all here: CIA, DEA, HSA, USCG, ICE, maybe more but I ran out of letters.

In any case, your correspondent will be traveling around to “our” various bases greeting our boys and reporting to you (since you’re paying for it) about what they are up to.

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