American Chronicle | 8/10/2009 12:00:00 AM
Don't Make Colombia Another Afghanistan
Aug 10--The Obama administration should reconsider its decision to escalate U.S. involvement in Colombia's long-running civil war.
In recent months, negotiations have been quietly under way to turn at least three -- and possibly five -- Colombian bases into U.S. military outposts. The Pentagon would be allowed to station as many as 800 U.S. military personnel and 600 private contractors at the bases.
As part of the deal, the Pentagon has agreed to provide Colombian forces with round-the-clock, real-time intelligence through a network of spy planes and satellites. The Colombian government said the aerial surveillance will help it smoke out drug-fueled rebel groups hiding in the country's impenetrable jungles.
But Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is worried that the technology could just as likely be trained on his country -- one of Washington's harshest critics in the region.
Rafael Pardo, a former Colombian Defense Minister, echoed Chavez's concern by likening the base plan to "lending your apartment's balcony to someone from outside the block so that they can spy on your neighbors." President Barack Obama has promised a new era of cooperation and respect in Washington's relations with Latin America. But the military escalation is a throwback to the old era of haughty intervention on behalf of unsavory regimes.
Colombia has the worst human rights record in the hemisphere. More trade unionists are killed there than anywhere else in the world. And the latest in a long line of scandals involves the Colombian army's execution of innocent civilians, who were later claimed to be rebels killed in combat.
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