The US is to open seven military bases in Colombia. The deal was sealed in Bogota today, a relatively swift passage to signature after the idea was only suggested at the end of August.
America has the green light for a deployment of 800 service personnel and 600 civilians. Just the August offer was enough to spark a fierce regional response, but it was made after neighbour Ecuador demanded the US close its only base there. The US and Colombia are struggling with drugs barons and a counter-insurgency campaign, and Manta’s closure robbed their forces of surveillance flights over the Pacific and elsewhere. Now one of the new bases gets a heavy lifter runway for C5 Galaxies. All are on a 10-year lease. Ecuador and fellow left-wing neighbour Venezuela are the twitchiest over this military build-up, with Hugo Chavez particularly vocal in his criticisms. He has recently obtained nearly 100 Russian tanks and rocket launchers with money borrowed from Russia.