UNASUR summit ends how it began: tense and without a deal
Sept 16--The dominant topics at meetings between the UNASUR group of nations on Tuesday were the increased U.S. military presence in Colombia and Venezuela’s recent arms purchases. The tension was high and emotions flared as all sides called for more transparency in dealings with non-UNASUR countries.
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Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca told reporters:
"We regret the attitude of Colombia, the intransigence of Colombia, which does not want to make transparent its pact concerning military bases.”
According to Reuters reports, Colombia says its deal with Washington, under which U.S. forces will have access to up to seven Colombian military bases and air, is aimed at helping both countries fight drug trafficking. But leftist governments in the region say the deal threatens regional security.
Venezuela, in particular, is upset with the much-maligned U.S.-Colombia deal, saying it poses a threat to Venezuela’s national security.
"We have seen neither the bold nor the fine print of the accord and of course this generates worries," Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizalez told reporters at the meeting.
The recent purchases of arms and other military hardware by Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile is causing concern for some who say Latin America is entering into an arms race. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez and Brazil’s President Inacio Lula da Silva have denied this, saying their purchases are purely for domestic defense.
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