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Twenty Years After End Of The Cold War: Pentagon's Buildup In Latin America

By       Message Rick Rozoff     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 11/10/09

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Within days of the summit's completion, and as though to suggest that the two leaders agreed to address respective Cold War era thorns in their sides, ten days of violence erupted in Romania, culminating in the nation's aged leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, and his wife Elena being dragged before a firing squad on Christmas Day.

In the middle of that ten-day uprising, Washington launched an armed invasion of Panama, Operation Just Cause, with over 27,000 troops and 300 aircraft, deposing President Manuel Noriega, who continues to languish in an American prison cell almost twenty years later.

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The post-Cold War world order was baptized in blood.

Following the Panama attack and the next two years' preparation for and activation of war plans against Iraq, the U.S. and its allies observed an almost decent interval - aside from wreaking carnage in Somalia, conducting ongoing bombing runs in Iraq, bombing Bosnian Serb targets with depleted uranium-tipped shells and firing cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan - until 1999, when the U.S. and NATO launched a 78-day air war against Yugoslavia and right afterward Washington inaugurated Plan Colombia. The latter has resulted in Washington providing almost $5 billion in military assistance to Colombia since 2000. Current American vice president Joseph Biden pushed the hard-line - counterinsurgency - version of the initiative in the U.S. Senate in 1999.

Since then, there has been a reactivation of the worst aspects of the Cold War period. Just as then, political change in any country is viewed through the prism of what it means in terms of alignment with or apart from the United States. And neutrality is not an option. The top official in charge of American foreign policy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has indicated her view of Latin American nations attempting an independent regional and global orientation. They are enemies. And are the proxies of larger adversaries: Russia, China and Iran.

On October 30, the U.S. and the Alvaro Uribe regime in Colombia signed an agreement during a closed-door ceremony in Bogota for the Pentagon to acquire seven new military bases in the South American country. [5]

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"One of the bases involved, at Palanquero, 180 kilometers (110 miles) west of Bogota, boasts a 3.5-km (two-mile) runway adapted for large cargo planes, which critics say would allow the US to project itself far beyond Colombia's borders." [6]

"The United States maintains similar 'forward operating locations' in El Salvador and Aruba-Curacao [Netherlands Antilles]." [7]

Colombian troops illegally entered neighboring Venezuela last August and Caracas claims to have apprehended Colombian paramilitaries on its soil at the time of the signing of the U.S.-Colombia bases deal on October 30.

In late September, less than two months after elections brought pro-Washington President Ricardo Martinelli to power, Panama's La Prensa newspaper announced that the new government will "sign a treaty with the United States on the opening of two U.S. naval bases on its territory...."

Minister of Government and Justice Jose Raul Mulino was quoted confirming that "The U.S. and Panama will sign before October 30 an agreement on the deployment of two naval bases on the Pacific coast of our country....One of the bases will be located in Bahia Pina...450 kilometers [280 miles] east of the capital, Panama City, and another one - in Punta Coca about 350 km [217 miles] west of the capital." [8]

American bases had been closed and troops brought home in 1999 in accordance with the 1977 treaty signed by the two nations. However, Washington led the 11-day PANAMAX 2009 military exercise in September with forces from Argentina, Brazil, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and NATO allies Canada, France and the Netherlands. The formal purpose of the maneuvers was to "simulate a terrorist threat in the Panama Canal," Gerald W. Ketchum, U.S. Operation, Preparation and Mobilization sub-director from the Southern Command, claimed. [9]

A comparable multinational exercise, Honduras-Commando Force 2007, was held in the nearby Central American nation two years earlier which included "marine, air and shelling operations" and the participation of troops from the United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. The drills were also described as "anti-terrorist exercises...under the aegis of the United States under the pretext of an alleged attack by the Al Qaeda network." [10]

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The purpose U.S. training of the Honduran armed forces was demonstrated last June 28. The Pentagon maintains its Joint Task Force-Bravo at the Soto Cano Air Base in the nation.

Further south, in 2007, two retired Peruvian military intelligence officers, Jesus Suasnabar and Juan Castro, exposed American plans to construct a base in their country to replace the military base in Manta, Ecuador from which the U.S. has now been evicted.

"The two ex-military officers pointed out that the US base would be the center of domination of Peruvian and Brazilian Amazonia, where multinational rapid-action forces would be deployed....[T]he military base would also prevent the consolidation of an energy bloc made up of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela....Peru might get involved in the Colombian conflict, as the military facility would be used to intervene in that country." [11]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at:

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