by Rick Rozoff
20 November 2009
From Chicago (USA)
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 Stop NATO international.
The United States are back in Latin America.
The military coup in Honduras marked the
beginning of Washington’s renewed grip on that continent. While another coup
was thwarted in Paraguay, the United States, the United Kingdom and the
Netherlands have been deploying new forces to encircle the ALBA countries
with a view to attacking Nicaragua, Ecuador and Venezuela.
Readying for the gathering storm, Chile has
embraced the North-American camp and stockpiled a powerful arsenal.
The chairman of the U.S.
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, and his Colombian opposite
General Freddy Padilla de
Leon, shaking hands outside the Pentagon
(November 13, 2009)
November 28 will mark five months since the coup led by U.S.-trained
commanders deposed the president of Honduras, the next day will see a mock
election in the same nation designed to legitimize the junta of Roberto
Micheletti, and the day following that will be a month since Washington
signed an agreement with the Alvaro Uribe government in Colombia for
the use of seven military bases in the country.
While intensifying a full-scale war in South Asia, continuing occupation
missions in Iraq and the Balkans, maintaining warships off the coasts of
Somalia and Lebanon, and deploying troops and conducting war games in most
parts of the world, the United States and its NATO allies have not neglected
Central and South America and the Caribbean are receiving a degree of
attention from the U.S. and its partners not witnessed since the Cold War
and in some ways are the targets of even more intense scrutiny and
Nearly five months since the June 28 coup d’etat against Honduran
President Manuel Zelaya led by General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez,
a graduate of the
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation,
formerly the School of the Americas, Washington has not used its
substantial - decisive - leverage with the illegal government and its
military supporters to reverse the armed takeover of power.
Instead it has conspired with the junta to drag
out deliberately futile negotiations and has thrown its weight behind the
November 29 election which, occurring without the previous reinstalling of
President Zelaya, will be a travesty of law and international protocols and
is in fact intended to lend false credibility to the current regime.
On November 15 Manuel Zelaya wrote a letter to American President
Obama decrying Washington’s machinations and stating that
accepting the terms of the U.S.-sanctioned (to say no more) arrangement with
Micheletti regarding the upcoming election would amount to,
“covering up the coup d’etat, which we know
has a direct impact due to the military repression on the human rights
of the inhabitants of our country.”
The letter also said,
“The same day that the accord’s Verification
Commission was set up in Tegucigalpa the statements by officials from
the State Department surprised (everyone) where they modify their
position and interpret the accord unilaterally with the following
statement: ‘the elections should be recognized by the United States with
or without the reinstatement’" of President Zelaya. 
The accord in question was one brokered by Costa
Rican President Oscar Arias and signed on October 29 which would have led to
a unity government with Manuel Zelaya returned to the presidency preparatory
to a new election.
Micheletti and his supporters in the country’s business community and
"muscle" in the military unilaterally abrogated the terms of the agreement
by thwarting Zelaya’s reinstatement and appointing all members of the
national cabinet. With the active connivance of Washington, as Zelaya’s
letter to Obama contends.
If a government friendly to the United States was overthrown in the manner
that the Honduran one was on June 28 it would not take the White House and
the State Department five months to respond, and even then only to abet the
crime. Censure, sanctions and covert operations would have been resorted to
In nations where candidates not entirely to the West’s liking win elections
or unapproved presidents win reelection, the whole panoply of "regime
change" interventions are put into effect with some variation of a "color
revolution" ultimately negating and reversing the result.
That such efforts have not been extended in
Honduras is ample proof that the U.S. is satisfied with matters as they
stand and would prefer the likes of Micheletti and General Vasquez to
preside over a country where the Pentagon has a military facility at the
Soto Cano Air Base and there stations its Joint Task Force Bravo
replete with Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.
On November 16 a photograph appeared on a Pentagon website, Defense Link, of
the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen,
and his Colombian opposite number, General Freddy Padilla de Leon, shaking
hands outside the Pentagon three days earlier (see above).
No story on or details of their meeting are available, not even on Defense
Department sites. Only the photograph and brief notices on Facebook and
Padilla’s resume is both illustrative and typical. He earlier matriculated
in "terrorism studies" at George Washington University and received a
fellowship for the Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University, as well
as taking a course on advanced military studies at Fort Belvoir, Virginia
and and training in strategic intelligence at the Defense Intelligence
Analysis Center in Washington, D.C.
The transcripts of his discussions with Mullen would prove intriguing,
focusing as they no doubt did on the buildup at the seven military bases in
Colombia recently turned over to the Pentagon and on the uses thereof.
Since the agreement on their acquisition by the United States was signed on
October 30 confirmation of the bases’ dual purpose - escalating the
counterinsurgency war inside the country and containing and confronting two
of its neighbors, Venezuela and Ecuador - has been witnessed.
Bogota reported that nine of its soldiers were killed and four wounded in a
major clash with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)
fighters in the southwestern department of Cauca on November 10.
Five days later Colombia seized four Venezuelan border guards on a river off
Colombia’s Vichada Department. A few days earlier two Venezuelan National
Guard troops were killed in the state of Tachira on the Colombian border,
leading Caracas to deploy 15,000 troops to the area on November 5.
The preceding week Venezuela arrested eight Colombian nationals and two
locals suspected of paramilitary activity on the two countries’ border.
Government official Ricardo Sanguino,
"denounced increasing paramilitary activity
as a strategy to conceal soaring US access to Colombian military bases"
and said "they are trying to destabilize the government of Venezuela..."
Recently Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
renewed repeated concerns over the new American bases on the territory of
his western neighbor, saying,
"that according to recently produced
documents, the military bases would be used for espionage purposes,
allowing US troops there to launch a military offensive against
On November 8, Bolivian President Evo Morales
"the use of Colombian military bases by U.S.
troops meant a provocation to the Latin American peoples, mainly to the
members of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA)."
He specified that,
"With the excuse of fighting against drug
trafficking and terrorism, thousands of U.S. soldiers will be deployed
in Colombia." 
ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples
of Our America, consists of,
...the last three nations joining this June.
Washington using Colombia as the nucleus of a new Latin American
military bloc to counteract ALBA has been explored in a previous article
in this series. 
Other prospective candidates include post-coup
Honduras, Panama, Peru and Chile, with pressure placed on Brazil, Guyana and
Suriname to either supply bases or in other ways augment American and
European military presence in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
The seven new U.S. military bases in Colombia allow the Pentagon far more
scope than is required merely for alleged drug interdiction surveillance and
even for the counterinsurgency war against the FARC.
The agreement on the bases, bearing the
sleep-inducing title of Supplemental Agreement for Cooperation and
Technical Assistance in Defense and Security Between the Governments of The
United States of America and the Republic of Colombia, lists where U.S.
military personnel and equipment will be deployed:
German Olano Moreno Air Base, Palanquero
Alberto Pawells Rodriguez Air Base,
Tolemaida Military Fort, Nilo
Larandia Military Fort, Florencia
Capitan Luis Fernando Gomez Nino Air
ARC Bolivar Naval Base in Cartagena
ARC Malaga Naval Base in Bahia Malaga.
The document also states that,
"the Parties agree to deepen their
cooperation in areas such as interoperability, joint procedures,
logistics and equipment, training and instruction, intelligence
exchanges, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, combined
exercises, and other mutually agreed activities" and Washington’s
Colombian client concedes, in addition to the seven bases named above,
"access to and use of other facilities and locations as may be agreed by
"The authorities of Colombia shall, without
rental or similar costs to the United States, allow access to and use of
the agreed facilities and locations, and easements and rights of way,
owned by Colombia that are necessary to support activities carried out
within the framework of this Agreement, including agreed construction.
The United States shall cover all necessary operations and maintenance
expenses associated with its use of agreed facilities and locations."
U.S. military, intelligence and drug enforcement
personnel - and American private contractors - "and their dependents" are
"the privileges, exemptions, and immunities
accorded to the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic
mission under the Vienna Convention...
Colombia shall guarantee that its
authorities verify, as promptly as possible, the immunity status of
United States personnel and their dependents who are suspected of
criminal activity in Colombia and hand them over as promptly as possible
to the appropriate United States diplomatic or military authorities."
One of the military bases obtained by the United
States - the Larandia Military Fort in Florencia - is within easy striking
distance of Ecuador (as the Alberto Pawells Rodriguez Air Base in Malambo is
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Defense Minister Javier Ponce
visited Russia late last month and on October 29 the two nations signed a
declaration on strategic partnership. Correa and Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev discussed energy and military cooperation.
Ahead of the visit Ecuador’s president stated,
"We need to restore the might of our army"
in reference to the U.S. buildup in Colombia, its neighbor to the north.
"Ecuador has been alarmed by the decision of Colombia, with which it
severed diplomatic relations in March 2008, to allow U.S. troops to use
its bases." 
The severing of relations occurred after
Colombia’s army launched an attack inside Ecuador.
Ecuador and Russia signed a contract for the delivery of Mi-171E Hip
transport helicopters to the Ecuadorian Ground Forces and a Russian
"Russia could supply six Su-30MK2 Flanker
multirole fighters, several helicopters, and air defense systems to
Ecuador, which would increase the value of their military cooperation to
over $200 million." 
Like other members of ALBA - Venezuela, Bolivia
and Nicaragua - Ecuador is purchasing Russian military equipment as a
counterbalance to traditional U.S. domination of its defense procurements,
with the potential for sabotage and blackmail it entails, and as protection
against potential attacks from Washington and its proxies, most notably
There is no way of overestimating the challenge that the emergence of ALBA
and the overall reawakening of Latin America pose to the role that the U.S.
arrogates to itself as lord of the entire Western Hemisphere.
The almost two-century-old Monroe Doctrine
exemplifies Washington’s claim to exclusive influence over all of North,
Central and South America and the Caribbean Basin and its self-claimed right
to subordinate them to its own interests. Never before the election
victories of anti-neoliberal forces throughout Latin America over the past
eleven years has the prospect of a truly democratic, multipolar New World
existed as it does now.
It is in response to those developments that the U.S. and its former
colonialist allies in NATO are attempting to reassert their influence in the
Americas south of the U.S. border.
The Pentagon recommissioned the Navy’s Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950 after
World War II, last year and fully activated it this one. Its area of
responsibility is the Caribbean Sea and Central and South America.
In early November a new commander for U.S. Army South was appointed, Major
General Simeon Trombitas.
The Army Times of November 10 provided
background information on him:
"Trombitas, a 1978 West Point graduate,
began his career in the 2nd Armored Division and served three tours with
7th Special Forces Group. He served in U.S. Southern Command and Special
Operations Command in Panama and commanded the U.S. Military Group in
His general officer assignments include
commanding general of Special Operations Command, Korea, and he served
on the Iraq National Counter-Terrorism Force Transition Team." 
The United States is not alone in threatening a
newly and truly independent Latin America and Colombia and Honduras are not
the only parts of Washington’s plans.
On November 5, Paraguay’s President Fernando
Lugo replaced the nation’s top military commanders - Army General Oscar
Velazquez, Navy Rear Admiral Claudelino Recalde and Air Force General Hugo
Aranda - against a backdrop of what Agence France-Presse reported as
a fear of,
"an ouster similar to the one that befell
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya..." 
That the Honduran putsch is intended to be the
first in a series of similar plots in Latin America and is neither an
aberration nor the last of its kind was also indicated last week when
Nicaragua expelled a Dutch European Union parliamentarian.
Radio Netherlands characterized the
motivation for the action as follow:
"Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega says
Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen was in Nicaragua to see how the army felt
about attempting a coup d´etat, but found no officers willing to go
along with the idea."
Van Baalen then moved to Honduras to,
"mediate in the political conflict between
ousted President Manuel Zelaya and his de facto successor Roberto
Mexican journalist Luis Gutierrez,
speaking at a conference against NATO’s global expansion in Berlin last
month and in particular of the bloc’s Article 5 military mutual assistance
clause, observed that,
"Mexico’s 3,000 kilometer border with the
United States is also a border with NATO." 
Troops from 50 nations on five continents and in
the Persian Gulf, the Caucasus and the South Pacific are serving or pledged
to serve under NATO command in Afghanistan at the moment because of Article
The Netherlands, for example, is not only assisting its American NATO ally
in Nicaragua and Honduras, but allows its island possessions in the
Caribbean - the Netherlands Antilles - to be employed for surveillance of
and future military actions against Venezuela.
In Curacao, a Dutch possession only 70 kilometers from the Venezuelan coast,
the leader of an opposition party, Pueblo Soberano (Sovereign People),
demanded that the U.S. military base on the island be closed down.
Helmin Wiels said that,
"he wants to prevent Curacao from being
dragged into what he predicts will be a future war between the US and
"The US has a number of military bases in Colombia, and Mr Wiels claims
the country is intent on a confrontation with Venezuela’s leftwing
President Hugo Chavez." 
In May of 2008 a U.S. warplane flying from
Curacao violated Venezuelan airspace, conducting surveillance of the
Venezuelan military base on Orchila Island. President Chavez said of the
"They’re spying, they’re even testing our
reaction capacity." 
Moreover, Venezuela accused the U.S. of
coordinating the action with Colombia, whose soldiers had crossed the
Venezuelan border the day before.
In 2005 Chavez appeared on the American television news program Nightline
and warned that the U.S. and its NATO allies were rehearsing invasion plans
for his nation, codenamed Balboa, which involved aircraft carriers and
warplanes, and said that American troops had been deployed to Curacao as
part of the preparations.
He further admonished:
"We are coming up with a counter-Balboa
plan. That is to say if the government of the United States attempts to
commit the foolhardy enterprise of attacking us, it would be embarked on
a 100-year war. We are prepared." 
A former Dutch possession in the Caribbean,
Suriname, one country (Guyana) removed from Venezuela, offered the Pentagon
bases to test military vehicles for jungle warfare in 2007.
In Guyana, Venezuela’s eastern neighbor, the nation’s former colonial master
Britain canceled a security agreement after the Guyanese government
questioned its partner’s real intentions.
The nation’s Office of the President released a statement which in part
“This decision by the UK Government is
believed to be linked to the administration’s refusal to permit training
of British Special Forces in Guyana using live firing in a hinterland
community on the western border with Brazil and Venezuela.” 
The Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr.
Roger Luncheon, stated,
"It could be that the UK Government did not
fully appreciate how dearly held was our position on the non-violation
of the sovereignty of Guyana. Their insistence in installing in their
design in April... management features that seriously compromise
Guyana’s ownership and when our new design re-established ownership that
was more consistent with our notions of sovereignty, the plug was
With U.S. bases in Colombia to the west and in
the Netherlands Antilles to the north, British military presence in the east
would tighten the encirclement of Venezuela. A collective siege conducted by
NATO allies the U.S., the Netherlands and Britain.
This June the chief of the Pentagon command that covers Central America,
South America and the Caribbean - Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) -
Admiral James Stavridis, was transferred to Brussels to become top military
commander of United States European Command (EUCOM) and NATO’s
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The transition was seamless, as one of the first initiatives on his new
watch was to recruit U.S.-trained Colombian counterinsurgency troops for the
war in Afghanistan. When they arrive they will be the first forces from
Latin America, and the Western Hemisphere in general except for NATO members
the U.S. and Canada, to serve under the Alliance’s command in the escalating
South Asian war. 
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Panamanian opposition sources report that
Washington is in the process of securing four air and naval bases in their
A news story from late September revealed that a
preliminary agreement on the bases,
"was reached between Panamanian President
Ricardo Martinelli and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during
recent talks in New York." 
On November 9 Senator Bill Nelson of
Florida spoke out against drilling for oil off his state’s coast, saying,
"many of the activities at Florida military
bases, including testing missile and drone systems and training pilots,
depend on the vast open stretches of ocean, much of it restricted
He mentioned that the Gulf of Mexico is,
"the largest testing and training area for
the U.S. military in the world." 
A Cuban analysis of three years ago described
the overall American military blueprint for Latin America and the Caribbean:
"The United States has a system of bases
that has managed to establish two areas of control:
"The circle formed by the Caribbean
islands, the Gulf of Mexico and Central America, which covers
the largest oil deposits in Latin America, and is formed by the
bases of Guantanamo, Reina Beatriz, Hato Rey, Lampira,
Roosevelt, Palmerola, Soto Cano, Comalapa and other lesser
"The circle that surrounds the
Amazon basin, downward from Panama, where the canal, the
region’s wealth and the location of an entry to South America
have been essential, and which is formed by the bases of Manta
[closed by Ecuador this July], Larandia, Tres Esquinas, Cano
Limon, Marandua, Riohacha, Iquitos, Pucallpa, Yurimaguas and
Chiclayo, which in their turn are linked to those of the region
further north..." 
The U.S. strategy to control the Amazon Basin
and the Andean region depends on Colombia on the northwest of the South
American continent and on obtaining bases and military allies further south.
Peru is one such likely location and so is
another which is at loggerheads with it, Chile.
Under former defense minister and current president Michelle Bachelet
the nation has amassed a formidable arsenal of advanced weapons from NATO
Hundreds of German, French and American
F-16s from the Netherlands and the
Dutch and British destroyers
French Scorpion submarines 
This unprecedented - and unjustified - arms
buildup has alarmed Chile’s neighbors: Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.
A commentary from four years ago pointed out that,
"Foreign analysts have said that Chile is
seeking hegemonic military power in Latin America vis-a-vis Peru,
Argentina and Bolivia in order to defend Chilean economic interests in
those countries and, in case of armed conflict, to expand its territory
in the way it has done in the past.” 
On November 6, Bachelet appointed General
Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba Poblete as new commander in chief of the Chilean
"aroused objections from human rights
organizations, since he has been accused of being involved in a series
of massive [violations] during the military regime of 1973-1990."
Six days later the Reuters news agency reported
that the U.S. is to provide Chile with $655 million dollars worth of new
"The Pentagon on Thursday [November 5]
advised the U.S. Congress of the possible sale of stinger missiles worth
about $455 million, AIM medium-range missiles worth $145 million and
Sentinel radar systems worth $65 million." 
Several days later a report titled "U.S.
Authorizes Sale of German Missiles to Chile" detailed:
"Seven months after Chile’s Defense Minister
expressed interest in purchasing a fleet of used (U.S. made) F-16
Fighter Jets from Holland, the U.S. government helped seal the deal by
supporting Chile’s bid to buy missiles for the jets."
"Also last week, the Pentagon endorsed two
other possible defensive arms sales for Chile’s army. The first purchase
would include six new Sentinel radar systems and six SINCGARS radio
systems, at a cost of US$65 million. The second deal could include 36
Avenger planes and 390 ground-to-air missiles at a cost of US$455
The accelerating pace and wide-ranging scope
with which the U.S. and its allies are militarizing the world is
unparalleled. Even during the depth of the Cold War most nations avoided
being pulled into military blocs, arms buildups and wars. No longer.
And Latin America is no exception.
 CNN, November 15, 2009.
 Prensa Latina, November 2, 2009
 Press TV, November 16, 2009
 Xinhua News Agency, November 10, 2009
Colombia: U.S. Escalates War Plans In Latin
America, by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, July 22, 2009.
Twenty Years After End Of The Cold War: Pentagon’s
Buildup In Latin America, by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, November
Supplemental Agreement for Cooperation and
Technical Assistance in Defense and Security Between the Governments of
The United States of America and the Republic of Colombia,
 Vedomosti, October 27, 2009
 Army Times, November 10, 2009
 Agence France-Presse, November 6, 2009
 Radio Netherlands, November 15, 2009
 World Future Online, October 24, 2009
 Radio Netherlands, November 16, 2009
 Bloomberg News, May 21, 2008
 Associated Press, September 16, 2005
 Stabroek News, October 28, 2009
Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s First Global
Army; South Asia, Latin America: Pentagon’s 21st Century
Counterinsurgency Wars, by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, August 9,
2009 and July 29, 2009
 Russian Information Agency Novosti, September 27, 2009
 Tampa Tribune, November 10, 2009
 Granma International, April 18, 2006
NATO Of The South: Chile, South Africa, Australia,
Antarctica, by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, May 30, 2009
 OhmyNews International, December 31, 2005
 Xinhua News Agency, November 7, 2009
 Reuters, November 12, 2009
 Santiago Times, November 16, 2009