U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited Colombia on Monday as part of a regional trip that includes Brazil and Chile. Panetta’s visit came exactly one week after Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak also visited Colombia and agreed on security and military contracts.
The Director of the CIA, David Petraeus; retired U.S. general Stanley McChrystal; and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Martin Dempsey, have all also visited Colombia recently.
What is going on?
In at least three previous blog posts, I have highlighted the increasing importance of Colombia’s role in the U.S. regional security regime, thanks to the impressive expansion of the Colombian military that has become the largest in the region. The $7 billion Plan Colombia alongside close to $70 billion spent by the Colombian state over the last decade on the military has made it a formidable force and potentially destabilizing to the region. This militarization of Colombia has acquired a dynamic of its own, and far exceeds the country’s needs to fight the insurgency. Read More