Colombia-U.S. Military Agreement Still Up in the Air

By Dialogo
October 27, 2010

Colombia’s decision on whether to take up in Congress the military-cooperation agreement with the United States annulled by the Constitutional Court in Bogotá is still pending, according to Colombian foreign minister María Angela Holguín.

The minister said that a formal decision has not yet been taken on whether or not to submit the agreement, signed during the administration of former president Alvaro Uribe, for legislative consideration.

Holguín denied recent statements by the senator Alexandra Moreno, according to which the Colombian administration was not going to take up in Congress the cooperation agreement signed in October 2009.

The agreement facilitated the access of U.S. military personnel to seven Colombian bases for operations in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.

In August the Constitutional Court invalidated it after deciding that the administration’s decision was not sufficient and that the treaty needed to be approved by legislators.

The signing of the agreement provoked ill-feeling in several Latin American governments, first among them neighboring Venezuela, where President Hugo Chávez characterized the treaty as a “threat” to peace in the region.

Currently on a visit to Colombia, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg admitted that the base issue was one of the topics discussed with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Steinberg, who traveled to Bogotá to strengthen bilateral relations, said that Washington is analyzing future possibilities for filling the gap left by the annulment of the agreement on the use of Colombia’s military bases.