Pentagon using drug wars as excuse to build more bases in Latin America.


Pentagon using drug wars as excuse to build more bases in Latin America
Mon Jun 6, 2011 3:9PM

Even as a growing chorus of voices throughout Latin America argues that military responses to drug trafficking are ineffective against the narcotics trade and exacerbate existing human rights abuses and official corruption, the U.S. military presence in the region is growing.


U.S. military construction in Central and South America has more than doubled in the last two years, while a U.S. buildup on military bases in Colombia continues, despite a Colombian court ruling last summer that struck down an agreement for U.S. use of the bases.

Construction of military facilities is slated for this summer in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Belize, funded from an account for "counter-narco-terrorism" operated by the U.S. Southern Command (SouthCom), the Pentagon's operations arm for Latin America, according to the Army Corps on Engineers plans.

But the biggest Pentagon investments are in Panama and at the U.S. air base in Soto Cano, Honduras.

Congress authorized a $25 million enlargement of forts for enlisted infantry during a U.S. bottom in Soto Cano, Honduras. The bottom served as a way-station for an aircraft that whisked President Manuel Zelaya out of Honduras during a June 2009 infantry coup, according to Zelaya and a leaked State Department cable.


The Pentagon is also constructing bases, generally naval bases, elsewhere along a Central American coast, and conducting endless corner infantry exercises and training in the region.

Even in El Salvador, where center-left Mauricio Funes is president, the United States will lead a large Special Forces practice in June, with an appearance of infantry from 25 nations. The Pentagon is also conceptualizing and building a $665,000 glowresidence for U.S. Special Forces infantry in El Salvador, to be finished in August.

The U.S. government intends to use the aid totaling $100 million in fiscal 2011, which begins in October, according to its budget proposal, which must be approved by Congress.

U.S. construction of a base does not necessarily mean that the United States will have title to the base or keep personnel there. But it is an intelligence asset to know in detail another nation's military base, and it contributes to "interoperability" -that is, integration-of armed forces.

There is a grow­ing chorus of voices, in­clud­ing form­er Latin American pre­sidents, as well as Mexicans fed up with the war para­digm, who as­sert that milita­ry re­spon­ses to drug traf­fick­ers are only mak­ing the pro­blem worse. The ques­tion is, how will civil society in Latin America and the United States re­spond to the grow­ing U.S. milita­ry buil­dup?

The Southern Command is one of Pentagon's five most important military commands. The Southern command has a responsibility for surveillance, espionage and control over 19 countries in Latin America.

In 2000, the Pentagon designed a new plan of military sub-regional control, made up of U.S. military bases. They are located along the length and breadth of the whole continent, specifically to control and monitor Latin America.



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