Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs
Vice-Ministry for Latin America and the Caribbean
Statement on the United States Offer to Mediate the Crisis Between Colombia and Venezuela
In response to recent declarations by the Government of the United States concerning its “interest in promoting stability and dialogue” between Colombia and Venezuela, the Ministry of People’s Power of Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela wants to point out that the installation of military bases in Colombia under the unlimited control of the United States itself represents a situation of instability and regional concern.
The Colombian Government tries to justify the disproportionate deployment of the United States in Colombian territory by citing the bilateral effort in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism. Those arguments are false and do not respond to the doubts and concerns that the countries of South America have expressed over the bases, which are perceived as threats due to the significance of the installation of equipment for electronic warfare, the possibility of intelligence-gathering operations and the presence of U.S. military personnel and defense contractors.
The strengthening of the U.S. military presence is aimed at demonstrating its global power to dissuade, under the threat of military intervention, countries like the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that are critical of imperialist U.S. policies. As part of this positioning, the Palanquero Base will play a strategic role since it could serve as a stop-over for missions outside of Colombia. Venezuela wishes to call attention to the fact that while the “Complementary Agreement for Defense and Security Cooperation and Technical Assistance” does not contemplate operations in third countries, it also does not explicitly prohibit them.
Venezuela’s concerns in considering the presence of these bases on Colombian territory under unrestricted U.S. control as a threat have solid foundation in recent violations of international law by both Colombia and the U.S.
In the case of the government of President Alvaro Uribe, the illegal attack on the territory of the Republic of Ecuador in March 2008 violated Article 2, Section 4 of the UN Charter, which states that member-states will refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of independence of any other member-state, or otherwise act in a way that is incompatible with the purposes of the United Nations.
With its war on Iraq, the U.S. violated UN Security Council Resolution 1441 of 2002. That resolution established a very strict inspection regime that strengthened the authority of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The resolution did not authorize the use of force in the case of a violation by Iraq and the U.S. violated the UN Charter when it launched military action without the approval of the Security Council.
These illegal actions, contrary to both the letter and spirit of the UN Charter and norms that forbid the use of force in international relations – most recently violated by the U.S. and Colombia – justify the concerns of the countries of South America because of the exaggerated operational and defensive capacity and a clear ceding of the responsibilities and prerogatives of the Colombian Government to the U.S. by the administration of President Alvaro Uribe.
Though the administration of President Barack Obama has publicly stated its commitment to respecting international law and multilateral relations, Venezuela’s concerns are only strengthened by the fact that this administration continues violating UN Security Council Resolution 1373 of 2001, which prohibits the granting of refuge to those who commit terrorist acts and forbids the denial of extradition requests for terrorists based on political reasons. The U.S. has failed to fulfill the obligations established in the Extradition Treaty with Venezuela, under the guise of legal maneuvers, in not extraditing the international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.
Faced with this real threat to regional stability by the U.S. Government, the proposal to mediate between Colombia and Venezuela has the clear goal of distracting from its primary responsibility in the crisis and proves offensive in the eyes of the politically conscious peoples of the world.
The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates its rejection of the aforementioned U.S. military bases in Colombia and re-states its disposition to continue the debate within the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) over the difficult regional situation provoked by the governments of Washington and Bogotá, by signing the ”Complementary Agreement for Defense and Security Cooperation and Technical Assistance.” .
Venezuela considers that if the U.S. has a real interest in collaborating to promote dialogue and regional stability, it should refrain from turning Colombia into a base of operations for its regional strategy of domination and control over the countries of South America.
Caracas, November 17, 2009