Chávez contemplates South Atlantic Treaty Organization (SATO)
The governments of Brazil and Venezuela are leading efforts to create a NATO-style South American Defense Council, which could be formed by the end of the year. The regional body would coordinate defense policies, deal with internal conflicts and presumably wane Washington's influence in its "backyard."
The idea gained traction after Colombia illegally launched a military operation in Ecuador to assassinate members of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP). The governments of Ecuador and Venezuela responded by sending troops to their countries' Colombian border, causing fear that a larger conflict could ensue.
Washington, at least in public, has supported the idea of the South American initiative. "I not only have no problem with it, I trust Brazil's leadership and look forward to coordination with it," said US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim reportedly told Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley that the US should "watch from the outside and keep its distance."
"This is a South American council and we have no obligation to ask for a license from the United States to do it," said Jobim during a visit to Caracas on Monday.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had previously championed the idea for members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) to create a coordinated defense council, but believes that the two bodies can co-exist.
"I once said that if NATO exists—the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—why couldn't SATO exist? The South Atlantic Treaty Organization," said Chávez. "We've placed it on the table for Latin America once again.”
Cyril Mychalejko for Upside Down World, April 16