An agreement between the U.S. and Colombian government, which allows the U.S. military access to and use of at least seven military bases in Colombia has been ruled unconstitutional in a 6-3 decision by Colombia’s constitutional court. The court ordered the government to submit the agreement to the Colombian congress for ratification as an international treaty subject to congressional approval to comply with constitutional rules.
The ruling comes after a group of lawyers filed in March 2010 a complaint with the court arguing against its validity based on the fact that it was approved by the government of former President Álvaro Uribe without the consent of Congress. The Uribe administration had countered the accusations by calling these accords an extension of a 1974 military pact and not a new pact. It also increased tensions between Colombia and neighbors Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia who were all highly critical of the pact fearing a shift in the balance of power of the region.
The court’s decision does not affect the use of bases permitted by previous agreements and any U.S. personnel at the seven bases in question may be transferred to those bases while the government decides whether or not to send the latest accords to Congress for approval.