“A critical sub-region of our hemisphere where security and stability is under constant threat from... anti-US governments".
-USAF proposal for FY2010 military construction program
Scary stuff goin on in the Western Hemisphere, from a recent article in the The Independent:
The United States is massively building up its potential for nuclear and non-nuclear strikes in Latin America and the Caribbean by acquiring unprecedented freedom of action in seven new military, naval and air bases in Colombia. The development – and the reaction of Latin American leaders to it – is further exacerbating America's already fractured relationship with much of the continent.
The new US push is part of an effort to counter the loss of influence it has suffered recently at the hands of a new generation of Latin American leaders no longer willing to accept Washington's political and economic tutelage.
The fact that the US gets half its oil from Latin America was one of the reasons the US Fourth Fleet was re-established in the region's waters in 2008. The fleet's vessels can include Polaris nuclear-armed submarines – a deployment seen by some experts as a violation of the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty, which bans nuclear weapons from the continent.
Consider that prior to 9-11, investigative journalists Mike Ruppert and Peter Dale Scott were calling Colombia and Venezuela
“The Next Vietnam.”:
Indicators of the imminence of conflict are not to be found in whether the Senate or the House chops or adds a few dollars or helicopters which can all be restored without fanfare to the Foreign Aid Bill in Conference Committee at the last minute. They are to be found in the movements and actions of money, the U.S. military and some CIA/DoD connected corporations, possibly using "sheep-dipped" CIA and military personnel disguised as employees of private companies in roles that can only expand the conflict.
Colombia has oil, but not nearly as much as Venezuela, which has replaced Cuba as US public enemy #1 in the region. It's pretty obvious what is really going on, right?
Earlier this year, Foreign Policy in Focus wrote this report on developments in the region:
Two of the bases are clustered near each other on the Caribbean coast, not far from existing U.S. military sites in Aruba and Curaçao – and closer to Venezuela than to the Pacific Ocean. Why are U.S. negotiators apparently forgoing Pacific air sites, if the drug war remains part of the U.S. military mission? What missions "beyond Colombia's borders" are U.S. planners contemplating?
Still wondering what US interests in the region might be?
Even if you take these developments at face value, and actually believe that the US is merely interested in counter-insurgency training in its own hemisphere, please note that counter-insurgency/counter-narcotics/counter-terror operations all result in the same thing:
The history of U.S. anti-drug aid in Latin America…has primarily been one where "anti-drug" training, advisers and equipment get used to kill civilians opposing military dictatorships instead.
-From The Wilderness
For a little background on the Clinton-era "Plan Colombia/Andean Initiative" check out more of Ruppert's writing on the subject from several years ago.
With bases in place for 10 years and more, and the secrecy that accompanies such installations, the proposed agreement would constitute an end-run around the struggles to make U.S. policy in Colombia and the region less militarized.
Colombia has been the hemisphere's largest recipient of U.S. military aid since 2000, under Plan Colombia — more than $5 billion to date. Purportedly designed to halve the cocaine trade and subsequently refashioned to include fighting terrorism, the results of counter-drug programs have been a complete waste. There's been no overall decline in land planted with coca, nor in the amount of cocaine available in the United States. "Street prices" have held steady or dipped lower than when Plan Colombia began during the Clinton administration.
Actually, business has been booming.
After 10 years of eradication efforts, Colombia now has more than 575,750 acres of coca-plant cultivation -- a 25 percent increase! The United Nations reports that cultivation increased by 27 percent over the last year, and Colombia still produces 90 percent of the world's cocaine.
-Joel Brinkley, Cleveland Plain Dealer Op-ed, March 2009
Oh yeah, and here is another reason why US military occupation is bad:
Another sticky point is judicial immunity for U.S. soldiers and contractors, sought by Washington. In October 2007, two U.S. soldiers reportedly raped a 12-year-old Colombian girl at a U.S. facility inside a Colombian base, and were whisked away from Colombia rather than face trial there. But Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez says U.S. soldiers will continue to enjoy such immunity under the accord.
-Foreign Policy in Focus