Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced on Sunday that an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft flying from Colombia violated Venezuelan airspace over the northwest state of Zulia near the countries’ shared border. According to Mr. Chávez, who yesterday described the incident as an act of war, the plane uses U.S. technologies.
In response, Chávez has ordered his military to be on alert in the future and to shoot down any such aircraft if they violate Venezuelan airspace. A U.S. Embassy spokesperson has said the mission has no information about any flyover and had not been contacted by Chávez's administration.
These most recent allegations follow a particularly tense period in Colombian-Venezuelan relations and a rise in anti-U.S. rhetoric. Last month there were reports that Venezuela would destroy border bridges if Colombia moved forward with plans to escalate its military presence on the border and Chávez last week accused the Netherlands of allowing the United States to use the Dutch islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, off Venezuela's coast, to prepare a possible military attack against his country.
Peru’s Minister of Production, Mercedes Aráoz confirmed yesterday that Peru will formally propose a South American regional security force at the meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) Defense Council in Ecuador next Friday. “The idea is to have in the framework of Unasur a clear agenda of non-aggression among the region’s countries, consolidated in a Peace Protocol”, said Aráoz. “The Peace, Security and Cooperation Protocol,” created by Peruvian President Alan García, aims to reduce military expenditure by all UNASUR members in addition to the creation of a regional security force.
The proposal has reportedly been well received by leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia and Uruguay. Minister Aráoz most recently met with Uruguayan President Tabaré Vásquez and said the President “received the proposal with great enthusiasm.”
The proposal comes at a time of diplomatic tension in the region. Peru’s recent allegations of Chilean espionage and incidents between Venezuela and Colombia have strained political relations in South America. In such cases, “intervening with the peace force could help to ease tempers and the situation,” said Minister Aráoz.