Venezuela Tells UNASUR Meeting, U.S. “Talking about War”

In a special meeting ofthe Unionof South American Nations (UNASUR) on Friday to address the issue of the seven militarybases in Colombiato be used by the U.S., participating countries agreed to strengthen South America as a "peace zone." 

The participating presidents at the UNASUR summit on Friday (Prensa Presidencial)

Mérida, August 31st 2009 ( – In a special meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on Friday to address the issue of the seven military bases in Colombia to be used by the U.S., participating countries agreed to strengthen South America as a "peace zone."

As well, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presented a document which revealed the U.S.'s plans to use Colombia for interventionist purposes across the continent.

Present at the meeting which took place in Bariloche, Argentina, were the heads of state of the twelve countries that make up UNASUR, a union which was constituted in May 2008 with the aim of South American integration modeled on the European Union.

Chavez proposed that UNASUR study a document titled "The White Book of Aerial Mobility Command and the Global Strategy of Support Bases of the United States," and in the final UNASUR statement it was agreed that its defence council would study it.

Chavez read out sections of the document, showing its reference to one Colombian base, Palanquero, and the U.S.'s desire to have a military presence there, as well as a stop over area in Brazil to refuel planes used on the military bases.

"You all know they are talking about war," Chavez told those present at the meeting.

He read from the document, which said, "The objective of the support strategy [of the United States] is  global access that allows for a complex spectrum for the movement of passengers and merchandise… the new strategy uses a system of mutually supported routes which allows for an assisted system, instead of a disconnected system."

According to the document, "The Southern Command has identified the Palanquero base as a secure locality of cooperation. From this locality… the whole region can be covered, apart from some regions in Chile and Argentina."

Palanquero is one of the seven bases in Colombia involved in an agreement between Colombia and the U.S., which would see the U.S have access to those bases.  At the UNASUR meeting Chavez said the bases would have the capacity to grant the U.S. air forces coverage of the whole continent.

Following this comment, Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, put a motion for UNASUR to solicit a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama for him to explain the agreement that the U.S. has with Colombia.

Both presidents also pressed Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to show the document of the agreement with the U.S. to the UNASUR countries and Chavez said that versions of the agreement that the Colombian press have published, said the agreement "contributes to security ofthe region."

"Of the region? What does that mean?" Chavez asked.

After the meeting Chavez said he thought it had been a big step towards South American integration, as a "space to say what you want… this wouldn't have been possible ten years ago, [when] there wasn't any entity in South America where we could analyse complex problems, we'll see what impact these decisions have," he said.

Other Presidents' Reactions

During the meeting, other South American presidents also expressed concern over the seven bases.

President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez proposed a common doctrine of defence that would be respected by all 12 countries. Bolivian President Evo Morales proposed a joint declaration rejecting the presence of foreign military bases.

Michele Bachelet, the president of Chile, requested more transparency among the participating countries regarding their security policies. President of Peru Alan Garcia asked Uribe for more details about the bases, saying, "this[meeting] is an excellent opportunity to put the cards on the table."

Uribe defended the agreement his country has with the United States, and said the agreement "is very clear that [the US] won't be intervening in other countries."

He said Colombia needed U.S. help in "the battle against drug-smuggling… Colombia needs the United States more than the United States needs Colombia."

Uribe also rejected the proposal to call on the president of the United States to explain the agreement, saying it was better to take such a discussion through the United Nations (U.N.) or the Organisation of American States.

Final Statement

The final statement coming out of the meeting affirmed that military agreements should be governed by the U.N. charter and the principles of UNASUR. It emphasised the importance of not interfering in countries' internal affairs. It advocated self determination for indigenous peoples as essential for consolidating the integration of the region.

"The presence of foreign military forces can not… threaten the sovereignty… of any South American nation," the document affirmed. It also stressed commitment to strengthening cooperation against terrorism and organised crime, and rejected "the presence or action of armed groups."

Finally, it declared UNASUR's desire to strengthen South America as a "peace zone," something "fundamental for the integral development of our peoples and the preservation of their resources."