Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos got his neighbors in a flutter by hinting that he would like Colombia to join NATO, unlikely as that may sound,
According to Santos, Colombia has been collaborating with NATO for a long time. “We have always been clear about that,” he said in a press conference in London as reported by Los Angeles’ Hispanic newspaper La Opinión. “We will continue our relationship with the alliance.”
The Colombia president met up with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday, where the allusions to becoming a “partner” of NATO started pouring in. As vague as Santo’s remarks have been about his country’s possible candidacy for the alliance – there were no words uttered about the application process, time frame or how they would meet the requirements for such membership – the very thought of Colombia joining NATO has sparked alarm in other countries in Latin America. The Ministers for Defense of both Ecuador and Brazil expressed their reservations about such an event, and pointed out that this issue should be discussed “throughout the region.”
While the current Colombian defense minister said no to NATO membership,
Santos, himself a former defense minister, announced over the weekend that “NATO is going to sign an agreement with the Colombian government, with the Ministry of Defense, to start a whole process of reaching out, of cooperation, also with a look at entering that organization.”
You’re not alone if you’re confused about the issue of geography,
That puzzled NATO officials because Colombia, as a country close to the equator, does not meet a NATO rule restricting membership to North Atlantic nations.
but at least it got a rise out of the Venezuelan regime (plus Bolivia and Brazil).
According to Daniel Duquenal,
Bogota is also, among other things, implying that South American institutions lack seriousness and thus it prefers to look elsewhere for countries that may not love Colombia but at least will deal with Colombia on a serious basis. If you ask me, being a mere associate of the NATO group is definitely more reassuring than being a member of UNASUR where the only thing that matters is what Brazil says. The US of A may be the driving force of the NATO but it has been quite clear that in the last decade and a half its country members participate or not at will in NATO actions though the general aim is respected: democracy and freedom from tyranny.
Santos is sending out a message by meeting with Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, and now with the NATO statement: if the ALBA/Foro de Sao Paulo countries were counting on him simply because of the FARC negotiations taking place in Cuba, they need to think again.