US-Colombian Basing Deal Unconstitutional

Colombia's Constitutional Court has struck down a US basing rights deal.

So says the Colombian Constitutional Court.

Via the BBC:  Colombia declares US base share deal unconstitutional

The constitutional court ruled the 2009 accord should be redrafted as an international treaty and sent to Colombia’s Congress for approval.

The deal allows the US to use seven bases to help with operations against drug trafficking and terrorism.

This actually should not be a surprise as the Uribe administration took the position that rather than being a new agreement that required congressional approval that the basing rights deal was just an amendment to an existing agreement (see here).  However, that position always struck me as a tad problematic.

It is worth underscoring that the deal does not allow construction of new US bases, but rather allows the use of existing Colombian military installations by US forces.  A map showing the locations of the bases can be found here.

Ultimately getting the agreement through the Congress shouldn’t be a problem, as the newly sworn-in Santos administration has overwhelmingly majorities in both chambers and the overall agreement is not especially controversial in Colombia writ large (although there are some with intense opposition views on the subject).

The bottom line is that Uribe thought it was more politically expedient to avoid Congress and a public debate, so he pretended like he didn’t have to go that route.  At the time Uribe was trying to get the chance to run for a third term in office and likely didn’t want distractions from that process, not to mention a likely desire for the basing deal to not be a prominent issue in the 2010 elections.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter