August 19, 2009
From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Washington and Bogota Agree on Defense Pact
On August 14, the United States and Colombia finalized a defense agreement that will allow the U.S. military to operate out of Colombian bases to coordinate counternarcotics operations. The agreement comes in the wake of the closure of a U.S. base in Manta, Ecuador. In a U.S. Defense Department news briefing, U.S. General James Cartwright said the goal of the pact is “to be able to provide to the Colombians what they need in order to continue to prosecute their efforts against the internal threats that they have.” The accord awaits signature by the U.S. and Colombian governments.
Still, the bilateral pact stirred up hemispheric tensions in recent weeks, particularly between Colombia and its neighbor Venezuela, as Liz Harper writes in the Americas Quarterly blog. On Tuesday, after meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to squelch concerns about “what the agreement does and does not do,” saying it involves bilateral cooperation rather than the creation of U.S. bases in Colombia.