The New York Times | 8/6/2009 12:00:00 AM
Latin American Leftist Leaders Assail U.S. Troop Plan
Aug 06--outh America's hard-line leftist leaders on Wednesday criticized U.S. plans to deploy extra troops at bases in Colombia, accusing Washington of using the war on drugs as a pretext to boost its regional military presence.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- a persistent critic of Washington -- said the Colombian plan could be a step toward war in South America and called on President Barack Obama not to increase the U.S. military presence in Colombia.
"These bases could be the start of a war in South America," the socialist Chavez told reporters. "We're talking about the Yankees, the most aggressive nation in human history."
Chavez, who has put his troops on alert in previous diplomatic disputes with Colombia, ratcheted up the spat with Bogota by barring Colombian state-run energy firm Ecopetrol from the Orinoco oil region and said imports of some 10,000 vehicles would be halted.
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