Colombia Declares Fire Disaster, to Get U.S. Help

Colombia declared raging forest fires to be a national disaster on Thursday and said it will get equipment from the United States to help douse the flames, further strengthening ties between Washington and Bogota.

Colombia, like other South American countries, is suffering from a drought that has contributed to fires in 11 of its 32 provinces. The government has ordered the temporary closure of some national parks due to the blazes.

President Alvaro Uribe, a Wall Street favorite and the White House’s main ally in the region, said that the United States will provide fire-fighting equipment.

The Washington-Bogota alliance has complicated Colombia’s relationship with some of its left-leaning neighbors.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says a military pact signed by Colombia and the United States in October could set the stage for an invasion of his oil-rich country, a claim that both countries dismiss.


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