The US has gained massive freedom of action in seven new bases in Columbia, according to the Independent, that will allow it the potential for nuclear and non-nuclear action within the whole region. The US has to leave its base in Manta, Ecuador by the end of November so building up a presence in Columbia is seen by them as a good substitute.

President Hugo Chavez has now indicated that the creation of these US bases could lead to war between Venezuela and Columbia. Chavez has never forgiven the US for its involvement in his temporary overthrow in 2002. A claim also made by President Zelaya of Honduras about his own problems with a military coup d’etat by Micheletti, whom Zelaya claims the US collaborated with.

President Morales of Bolivia has also called for the outlawing of foreign bases in the region.

The US now gets half of its oil from Latin America, which will explain their keenness to get some military muscle into the area. This may include the storing of nuclear weapons in Columbia, something that will probably violate the Tlatelolco Treaty (Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean).

Brazil has massive new oil reserves and will soon be a big enough producer to join OPEC. They have already stated their disquiet at the new US naval presence in their oilfields.

The agreements between the US and Columbia were signed on 30th October 2009. It risks starting a costly arms race in the region according to The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Amnesty International has also expressed their concerns and many Columbians are also unhappy at the free reign being given to the US forces.

The US it seems is never shy of doing deals with whoever it takes in order to safeguard its global interests. Is South America destined to become the new Middle East?

The Royal Naval icebreaker HMS Endurance (aka ‘Red Plum’) patrols the South Atlantic for the UK, but suffered a flood earlier in the year that may see a £20 miilion repair bill forcing her early ‘retirement’. The less capable HMS Scott will be taking over the duties for the time being.

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