Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

Read more

DEBATE

Clone of Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part Two)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part One)

Read more

ENCORE!

The French Maestro of Soul

Read more

FOCUS

US tobacco giants want lion's share of e-cigarette business

Read more

ENCORE!

Bold and bonkers: Kate Bush is back on stage

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

  • US military targets Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • UN backs Iraqi request for inquiry into IS militant crimes

    Read more

  • Obama calls for higher wages amid 'revving' US economy

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine’s children return to school as fighting rages on

    Read more

  • Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM calls for regional peacekeeping force after ‘coup’

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Death toll rises in Paris apartment building blast

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • French police arrest hungry hedgehog hunters

    Read more

  • Tripoli under control of militias, says government

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao leaves Ligue 1 for Man Utd

    Read more

  • Spain orders custody for parents of ill British boy

    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)