55% of Colombians Support U.S. Presence on Their Military Bases

By Dialogo
July 22, 2009

Bogotá, July 21 (EFE). - According to a survey published today, more than half of Colombians (55.35%) “agree” with the presence of U.S. military personnel on the country’s bases, as established by a cooperation agreement being negotiated by the two nations. . The poll, conducted by the firm Yanhaas for broadcaster RCN, also indicates that 36.29% of the citizens surveyed “disagree” with a U.S. presence and 8.36% did not express an opinion. The survey of one thousand adults of both sexes was carried out in nine Colombian cities last weekend and has a margin of error of 4%. By age cohort, the youngest group (18 to 24 years old) was the most supportive (59.5%) of the presence of U.S. military personnel on Colombian bases. The agreement under negotiation establishes that the United States may use the Colombian bases of Malambo, in the north, and Palanquero and Apiay - both in the center of the country - for counternarcotics and counterterrorism activities. At Colombia’s request, two other bases may be added where U.S. personnel have already been assigned: Larandia (in the south) and Tolemaida (in the center). The Colombian government has defended the “advantageousness” of the agreement and has made it clear that the objective is the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism within the national territory, without affecting other states. In addition, the government has emphasized that the agreement does not imply the “transit of foreign troops” across Colombian territory and that there is also no intention to supplant the Ecuadorian base of Manta, where the counternarcotics operations that the United States had carried out there for a decade came to an end last week. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced today that he has decided to review his country’s relations with Colombia as a result of the military agreement that the country is negotiating with the United States. “Now the Yankees want to set up four military bases in Colombia. (They say) that they are Colombian bases, not American bases, but they are going to be there permanently, which is going to make it necessary for us to review our relations with Colombia,” Chávez said this morning in a telephone call to the state television channel Venezolana de Televisión. The bases are a “threat” to Venezuela, because “they open the door to those who attack us constantly and are preparing new acts of aggression against us,” Chávez emphasized.