Los Angeles Times | 8/11/2009 12:00:00 AM
Washington is scaring our Latin American neighbors
Aug 11--The U.S. military buildup in Colombia has rattled nerves regionwide. The reasons and the intent should be clearly explained to the hemisphere's leaders.
Details of an agreement giving U.S. personnel access to Colombian military bases are not finalized, but the United States is expected have a significant presence at three air bases and two naval bases, greatly increasing its capability to monitor not only local drug traffickers but neighboring countries.
Whatever goodwill Obama engendered when he went to the Summit of the Americas in April and promised a more respectful approach to the region is rapidly diminishing. The president had begun to make incremental progress, for example, in restoring diplomatic relations with Venezuela. Now nerves are rattled from the Andes to the Strait of Magellan. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has called for Obama to meet with South American nations, and Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, says the deal poses "a belligerent, unprecedented and unacceptable situation." Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is openly touting the likelihood of war.
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