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Chávez rages at US plan to boost antidrug ops in Colombia

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has agreed to host the Pentagon's narcotics-interdiction flight operations, which were recently kicked out of Ecuador.

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez attends a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas on Wednesday.

Efrain Patino/AP

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South America's left-right ideological tensions are flaring once again, this time over a US military plan to beef up its presence in Colombia.

Washington's best ally in the region, President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, has agreed to host the Pentagon's narcotics-interdiction flight operations. Those operations were recently kicked out of Ecuador by leftist President Rafael Correa after a 10-year contract for use of the Manta air base came up for renewal.

The new plan, which has been quietly negotiated, is causing a storm across South America at a time of stepped-up arms deals and hushed military contacts involving not just the United States but Russia and Iran as well. News of an expanding US military presence was always going to roil South America, regional analysts say, but they add that the Obama administration could have avoided some of the reaction by practicing something it preaches: transparency.

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