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28 Aug, 2009 16:47

“US problem in Latin America could have been avoided”

A military agreement between the United States and Colombia has caused an uproar in Latin America which could have been avoided, as Michael Shifter from the Inter-American Dialogue Policy Center told RT.

The US and Colombia have agreed on a 10-year deal allowing the United States to buff up its military presence in the country – and though the Columbian government says that it is aimed at stopping drug trafficking and combating extremism, the news is not being welcomed by Latin American leaders.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has already threatened to break off diplomatic ties with neighboring Columbia, calling the deal an “act of war” and “betrayal”.

And though the US anticipated the negative reaction of Hugo Chavez and some of the hard-line governments, the opposition by the more moderate Brazil and Chile was completely unexpected, Michael Shifter says.

“The US hasn’t learned the lesson that if there’s some sort of agreement that has to do with the use of military resources of the United States in Latin America, this is going to arouse a lot of suspicions… that is going to be a problem,” Shifter says.

He has added that the US didn’t really lay the groundwork before doing this and they didn’t consult neighboring countries. Shifter believes this was a decision made at the bureaucratic agency level that didn’t even get to the highest political levels – and the US is paying a price for that.