Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is pissed at reports that the US will increase its troop strength in Colombia and acquire military bases there.
Oh poo, says the President, as quoted by Reuters:
"There have been those in the region who have been trying to play this up as part of a traditional anti-Yankee rhetoric. This is not accurate," Obama told Hispanic media reporters....
"We have had a security agreement with Colombia for many years now. We have updated that agreement. We have no intent in establishing a U.S. military base in Colombia," Obama said.
"This is continuation of assistance that we had been providing them. We have no intention of sending large numbers of additional troops into Colombia, and we have every interest in seeing Colombia and its neighbors operate peacefully."
Fisking the President [albeit unintentionally, I suspect], Reuters then examines the new security agreement with Colombia:
The new security arrangement would allow the Pentagon to lease access to seven Colombian military bases for U.S. support in fighting drug traffickers and guerrillas involved in the cocaine trade.
The agreement would also increase the number of American troops in Colombia above the current total of less than 300 but not more than 800, the maximum permitted under the existing pact.
So, let's see:
We are not establishing a US military base in Colombia: we're just leasing seven of them.
And we're not sending large numbers of additional troops: we're only increasing our troop levels there by 267%.
Oh: and we also negotiated the right to supplement those 800 troops with up to 600 private military contractors (who are not mercenaries, no matter what you think the meaning of "is" happens to be).
Nothing to see here. Keep moving along.