This past Saturday, Fr. Roy Bourgeois and I accompanied President Manuel Zelaya back to his native Honduras, almost two years after a military coup led by SOA graduates removed him from his country at gunpoint. The short flight
we took with him, from Managua to Tegucigalpa, was a journey packed with laughter, tears, songs, nerves, hugs, and decades of history.
Above all, this was an epic Latin American journey, a brief Latin American freedom ride of sorts. It was a moment to display to a world that does not often look this way, a loosely woven cloth of Latin American sovereignty and integration. As the only U.S. citizens invited to be part of a small group of international accompaniment, Roy and I felt extraordinarily privileged to be sharing this moment with our Latin American sisters and brothers.
Porfirio Lobo and Manuel Zelaya shake hands on May 23, 2011 (Guardian UK)
By Rady Ananda
Since Obama’s first coup on June 28, 2009, when Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped and flown to a U.S. military base in Palmerola before being spirited out of the country in his pajamas, Honduras has endured lethal repression under the US-installed dictator, Porfirio Lobo. But today, May 28, 2011, Zelaya returned.
On May 23rd, Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuela president Hugo Chavez brokered a deal that allowed Zelaya to return so that Honduras will be readmitted to the Organisation of American States, thus gaining access to international “aid” funds.
On Thursday, the United States expelled the ambassador from Ecuador, in retaliation for Wednesday’s expulsion of the US ambassador from Ecuador. This now leaves the United States without ambassadorial relations in three South American countries – Bolivia and Venezuela being the other two – thus surpassing the Bush administration in its diplomatic problems in the region.
US Ambassador Heather Hodges was declared “persona non grata” and asked to leave Ecuador “as soon as possible”, after a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks showed her saying some disparaging things about Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa. In the cable, she alleges that President Correa had knowledge of corruption by a former head of the national police.
Although the Bush administration intervened in the internal affairs of countries such as Bolivia and even Brazil, it was somewhat better at keeping its “eyes on the prize” and avoiding fights that would distract from its main goal. The prize, of course, is Venezuela – home to the largest oil reserves in the world, estimated by the US Geological Survey at 500bn barrels. Washington’s goal there for the last decade has been regime change. The Bush team understood that the more they fought with other countries in the region, the less credible would be their public relations story that Venezuela was the problem.
SOA Watch is extremely concerned about the drastic increase of U.S. militarization in Latin America. The bases agreement operates from the same failed military mindset that has given rise to the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC). The purpose of the bases and the purpose of the SOA/ WHINSEC are the same: to ensure U.S. control over the region through military means.
An employee of a CIA front organization that also funds opposition groups in Venezuela was detained in Cuba last week
An article published in the December 12th edition of the New York Times revealed the detention of a US government contract employee in Havana this past December 5th. The employee, whose name has not yet been disclosed, works for Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), one of the largest US government contractors providing services to the State Department, the Pentagon and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The employee was detained while distributing cellular telephones, computers and other communications equipment to Cuban dissident and counterrevolutionary groups that work to promote US agenda on the Caribbean island.
President Hugo Chavez has ordered Venezuela’s military to prepare for a possible armed conflict with Colombia, saying his country’s soldiers should be ready if the United States attempts to provoke a war between the South American neighbours.
An official document from the Department of the US Air Force reveals that the military base in Palanquero, Colombia will provide the Pentagon with “…an opportunity for conducting full spectrum operations throughout South America…” This information contradicts the explanations offered by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the US State Department regarding the military agreement signed between the two nations this past October 30th. Continue reading →
Latin America awoke yesterday to two extraordinary announcements that will impact the region for years to come; one in Honduras producing tentative hope, and the other in Colombia, sowing widespread concern and fear. Together they reflect the dual nature of the Obama Administration´s approach to Latin America.
Throwing Bullets at Failed Policies: US Plans for New Bases in Colombia
It was a winter day in the Argentine city of Bariloche when 12 South American presidents gathered there on August 28. It was so cold that Hugo Chavez wore a red scarf and Evo Morales put on a sweater. The presidents arrived at the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) meeting to discuss a US plan to establish seven new military bases in Colombia. Though officials in Colombia and the US say the bases would be aimed at combating terrorism and the drug trade, US military and Air Force documents point to other objectives. Continue reading →
In the past ten years, South America has moved toward integration, a prerequisite for independence; has broadened international ties; and has addressed internal disorders—foremost, the traditional rule of a rich Europeanized minority over a sea of misery and suffering. It rejects the US “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror.”
The US doesn’t like this, and plans to make its new seven military bases in Colombia the center of its Latin American operations. The Obama administration is also building mega-embassies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In her new book Blood & Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia, author Jasmin Hristov writes: “For roughly forty years, the Colombian state has been playing a double game: prohibiting the formation of paramilitary groups with one law and facilitating their existence with another; condemning their barbarities and at the same time assisting their operations; promising to bring perpetrators of crime to justice, while opening the door to perpetual immunity; convicting them of narco-trafficking, yet profiting from their drug deals; announcing to the world the government’s persecution of paramilitary organizations, even though in reality these ‘illegal armed groups’ have been carrying out the dirty work unseemly for a state that claims to be democratic and worthy of billions of dollars in US military aid.”