Perhaps this week you heard news reports about Venezuela bombing a couple of bridges that connected it with Colombia, and have been wondering what all the tension is about.
As it turns out, Colombia is basically our last surrogate state in Latin and South America.
In the old days, sure, we had our various friendly puppet goverments, and we certainly wouldn’t mind having a few more (see: the brief 2002 Venezuelan coup). But for the most part, that’s over, and for Latin America that’s a much better state of things.
But Colombia — due to the drug war and thorough corruption — remains, and so the US is putting more and more chips on that spot. After all, the US gets about half of its oil from Latin America. We can’t just let the region go on its way.
The Independent: Indications of US willingness to envisage the stationing of nuclear weapons in Colombia are seen as an additional threat to the spirit of nuclear disarmament. After the establishment of the Tlatelolco Treaty in 1967, four more nuclear-weapon-free zones were set up in Africa, the South Pacific, South-east Asia and Central Asia. Between them, the five treaties cover nearly two-thirds of the countries of the world and almost all the southern hemisphere.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the world’s leading think-tank about disarmament issues, has now expressed its worries about the US-Colombian arrangements.
With or without nuclear weapons, the bilateral agreement on the seven Colombian bases, signed on 30 October in Bogota, risks a costly new arms race in a region. SIPRI, which is funded by the Swedish government, said it was concerned about rising arms expenditure in Latin America draining resources from social programmes that the poor of the region need.
Much of the new US strategy was clearly set out in May in an enthusiastic US Air Force (USAF) proposal for its military construction programme for the fiscal year 2010. One Colombian air base, Palanquero, was, the proposal said, unique “in a critical sub-region of our hemisphere where security and stability is under constant threat from… anti-US governments”.
The proposal sets out a scheme to develop Palanquero which, the USAF says, offers an opportunity for conducting “full-spectrum operations throughout South America…. It also supports mobility missions by providing access to the entire continent, except the Cape Horn region, if fuel is available, and over half the continent if un-refuelled”. (“Full-spectrum operations” is the Pentagon’s jargon for its long-established goal of securing crushing military superiority with atomic and conventional weapons across the globe and in space.)
So you can understand why Colombia’s neighbours are nervous. Following the US plans, Venezuela warned Colombia it might prompt war, and indeed that’s already started to some extent. Even without war, it does, as noted by the think tank above, require other countries to beef up their military spending in kind.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.