The Choir Praises the Dumping of the Bases Agreement
A couple weeks after the ruling declaring invalid the US-Colombia military bases agreement, as the dust settles, politicians and analysts are giving kudos to the Constitutional Court ruling saying that it was for the better. Most of those voices come from former supporters of the deal —including liberal party presidential candidate, Rafael Pardo— can be explained largely by the strong anti Chavez sentiment that saw the bases agreement as a strong deterrent tool against Venezuela.
The Constitutional Court ruling declaring invalid the agreement comes at a perfect timing to help mending the broken Colombia-Venezuela relations. Unlike other US military bases in the region that were established for drug interdiction exclusively, the wide scope of the US-Colombia deal was interpreted as a threat to Venezuela, prompting President Hugo Chavez to sever diplomatic relations with Colombia. Yet, the broken relations had a disastrous economic effect over Colombian exports: until the military bases deal was signed, Venezuela was the second largest market for Colombian exports. Furthermore, countries in the region were not happy with the tension and had offered to mediate. So, it did not come as a surprise that only three days after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took office, he received president Chavez in the Caribbean town of Santa Marta, at the hacienda were Simon Bolivar died, and both governments committed to mend their broken relations. Reestablishment of Venezuela-Colombian relations has been widely praised.
In this context, the fate of the US-Colombia agreement is uncertain. The Colombian Government has stated it is studying whether it would submit it to Congress. Since it is an international treaty, it requires Congress approval and then it would go back to the Constitutional Court, this time to make sure it is compatible with Colombian constitution. While President Santos’ majority in Colombian Congress would surely afford him a swift approval, the same cannot be said about the deal’s transit through the Constitutional Court. Indeed, as many opponents of the deal have pointed out, Colombian constitution does not allow stationing of foreign troops in Colombian soil (only transit) and Colombia, in its preamble, vows its commitment towards integration with the Latin American and Caribbean nations.