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The feud between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos continues after Santos returned from a five day visit to Washington.

Yesterday, Ecuador's Minister of Internal and External Security, Gustavo Larrea, was in Washington to meet with various members of Congress, the media, and to speak at an event hosted by CSIS and the Inter-American Dialogue. It seems that Larrea's visit was timed such that he could promote Ecuador's new Constitution, approved by the constituent assembly yesterday and up for referendum vote in September, and to make clear that while Ecuador hopes to maintain bilateral relations with the United States, it also will uphold its sovereignty. You can listen to Larrea's presentation at the CSIS and Dialogue event (in Spanish) here.

Here is how the Bolivian government's press agency (Agencia Boliviana de Información, ABI) portrayed yesterday's visit to La Paz of Thomas Shannon, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemishere Affairs. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee finished work last Thursday on its version of the 2009 State / Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the U.S. government budget legislation that supplies most U.S. aid to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez heads to Russia today to buy more than $2 billion in arms. This is an increase in the $3 billion Venezuela spent in the previous three years, from 2005-2007. The U.S. has been...

Argentina's defense minister, Nilda Garré, and president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, at the annual civil-military "comradeship dinner."
  • Argentina: [A possible military pay raise] will be the central point at the traditional military dinner [the annual "comradeship dinner"], in which the entire national cabinet, Supreme Court judges and legislators share tables with the main military commanders. The appearance of the salary question as a fundamental concern at all levels, at a moment of political upheaval [Argentina's agricultural crisis], is taken by the officers as a symbol that the barracks' doors are closed, and have been for many years, to coup-plotting adventures. With no greater crises in view, the dinner's climate will be marked by a possible announcement about salaries."
  • Argentina: "The Minister of Defense ordered the Army High Command to relieve three officers of their command in the V Infantry Brigade (Salta), if it is proven that they tried to destroy a guard logbook in that city's Military Hospital. ... In the hospital was found a guard logbook corresponding to the 1976-1983 military dictatorship period."
  • Bolivia: "The government last night accused the Podemos and UN opposition parties of trying to split the armed forces and seek to pit them against the police, through a Senate committee's investigation of a [dynamite] attack on a communication medium [television station] in Yacuiba. ... They denied that Army Lieutenant Georges Nava, who is detained with 11 other people, is responsible for the deed. ... Yesterday [July 8] information on Nava's flash memory came to light indicating that the [Morales] government has the unconditional support of perhaps only three of the 56 regimental commanders."
  • Brazil: "250 soldiers began to leave [Rio de Janeiro's violent Providencia favela], obeying the order of a federal judicial tribunal that considered soldiers' participation in police functions to be unconstitutional. On Thursday June 26 the Federal Regional Tribunal's deadline for the Army to vacate the area completely will expire. The soldiers' presence to support a project sponsored by a political ally of Brazil's president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was strongly criticized by the opposition, the press and Providencia's own inhabitants. The neighborhood's residents organized violent protests against the soldiers who had been there, accusing them of abuses of power and of being allies of narcotrafficking gangs.
  • Guatemala: "In his speech, [President Álvaro Colom assured that his government will support itself on 'a new modernized Army to recover diverse geograhic areas of the country' that are under the influence of organized crime gangs."
  • Mexico: "The debacle in Santiago in Sinaloa state, a stronghold of drug traffickers, is one of a series of blunders by Mexican soldiers waging a bloody campaign against narcotics cartels — a crackdown that the U.S. Congress is looking at supporting with up to $1.6 billion. Since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and sent out 25,000 troops to take on the mafias, soldiers have killed at least 13 unarmed civilians."
  • Peru: "A debate blew up in Peru after the government's decision to send the armed forces into the streets to reinforce security in the face of a July 9 national strike, in the belief that demonstrators opposing President Alan García will commit acts of violence."
  • Venezuela: "Venezuelan military officers have expressed growing alarm at attempts by President Hugo Chávez to turn the armed forces into a political instrument of his socialist revolution."
  • Venezuela: "Hundreds of Venezuelan military officers are no longer assigned duties and have been relegated to their homes, quietly pushed aside for their dissent under President Hugo Chavez, according to former military commanders and a watchdog group."


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