In a move State Department officials are characterizing as a “vital” part of the war on drugs, the US plans to deploy troops and station aircraft at Colombian military bases, sparking criticism from several key Latin American countries which don’t relish the prospect of an increased US military presence in the region.
The Brazilian government has sought guarantees that the US military’s operations will be restricted to Colombian territory. The nation has also officially come out in opposition to the deployment. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has cautioned that the US presence could spark the beginning of a broad war in South America.
Yet if the harsh criticism of major heads of states bothered President Barack Obama, he was not showing it. Indeed, in an interview with reporters today he insisted that despite the agreement he had “no intent in establishing a US military base in Colombia.” He also dismissed the criticism as “anti-Yankee rhetoric.”
In addition to fighting drug smuggling, the US presence would also be used to further assist the Colombian government against the Marxist rebels in its nation. Colombia has accused Ecuador and Venezuela of assisting the rebels against the Colombian government.