Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky tweets

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger: Top opposition figure to be questioned in baby-trafficking scandal

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Liberia: President dismisses top officials who ignored call to return home

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Google rivals Amazon with delivery drone tests

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000 (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000

Read more

DEBATE

US-Africa summit: Obama unveils $33 billion US investment plan for Africa

Read more

  • Ukraine death toll mounts as Kiev plans to join NATO

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

Americas

Chavez warns against US troop surge in Colombia

Video by Luke BROWN

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-06

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned regional leaders on Wednesday that a build-up of US troops in neighbouring Colombia, a move backed by his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe, could lead to conflict in Latin America.

REUTERS - South America’s hard-line leftist leaders on Wednesday criticized U.S. plans to deploy extra troops at Colombian bases, accusing Washington of using the war on drugs as a pretext to boost its regional military presence.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is meeting South American presidents this week to try to drum up support for the U.S. plan to base anti-drug flights in the world’s top cocaine producer after the U.S. military lost access to a base in neighboring Ecuador.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez—an outspoken critic of Washington—said the Colombian plan could be a step toward war in South America and called on U.S. President Barack Obama not to increase the U.S. military presence in Colombia.

“These bases could be the start of a war in South America,” the socialist Chavez told reporters. “We’re talking about the Yankees, the most aggressive nation in human history.”

Chavez previously put his troops on alert in diplomatic disputes with neighboring Colombia but then backed down.

A close Chavez ally, Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca farmer who ousted U.S. anti-drug agents last year, said Colombia’s drug-funded FARC rebels had become Washington’s “best tool” to justify military operations in the region.

“What did the United States say when it invaded Iraq? They said (former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) had weapons of mass destruction. Where are they? Saddam was the real target. In our region, the pretext is the fight against drug-trafficking,” said Morales, who met Uribe on Tuesday.

“We can’t have all these planes and military equipment concentrated in Colombia. This is against the FARC. This isn’t against drug-trafficking, it’s against the region. Our duty is to reject it,” Morales told a news conference.


Chile says it's Colombia's decision to make

Uribe met on Wednesday with Chile’s moderate leftist president, Michelle Bachelet, whose government was more restrained.

“The decisions that every country takes are sovereign and must be respected,” Chilean Foreign Minister Mariano Fernandez told reporters.

In Peru, the world’s No. 2 cocaine producer, Uribe got support from President Alan Garcia, a pro-Washington conservative who is one of his few allies in the mainly left-leaning region.

Uribe’s security drive would give U.S. forces access to seven Colombian bases and increase the number of American troops in the Andean nation above the current total of less than 300 but not above 800, the maximum permitted under an existing pact.

Uribe was also scheduled to visit Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a moderate leftist leader, has expressed concerns over the U.S.-Colombia talks on an expanded U.S. presence.

Uribe, who is deciding whether to run for a third term, has very tense relations with neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela and is not visiting their presidents on his tour.

Colombia has clashed with its neighbors on several occasions after the government’s battle against rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, spilled across its borders.

The guerrilla army is funded by the cocaine trade and has fought an insurgency against the state for 45 years.

Date created : 2009-08-05

COMMENT(S)