[StopTheWar] FW: The US militarization threat to progressive governments in Latin America - 7pm 11th May NK10

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Lambert, Emily

May 10, 2010, 6:52:09 AM5/10/10
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Meeting of interest....
Meeting: The US militarization threat to progressive governments in Latin America

Speaker: Dr Francisco Dominguez

Date: Tuesday 11th May 2010, at 7pm    Venue:  New Kings College NK10

The Speaker
Francisco is the Head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University and the Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC). He has traveled to Venezuela on many occasions with various delegations where he has met with leaders of the Bolivarian process and where he has attended several trade union and other conferences.
Meeting Synopsis
The Venezuelan Government has transformed the lives of millions through progressive policies in the last decade. Today, this progress is under threat from a US militarization of the region that is encircling the country, including an agreement between the US & Colombia concerning new military bases & the revival of the 4th fleet.
The recent coup in Honduras, followed by the exposure of coup plots in Ecuador & Paraguay, has confirmed that right-wing forces are again seeking to roll back progress across Latin America; threatening peace, democracy & sovereignty.
Francisco will be speaking about the meaning and recent gains of the "Bolivarian Process" underway in Venezuela as led by President Hugo.
He will go on to talk about the plan by the United States to reverse these gains by linking up with the recalcitrant opposition bent on overthrowing the Chavez regime.

As Washington was considering the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile in 1971, Nixon’s National Security Council observed that if the US cannot control Latin America, it cannot expect ‘to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world'. Today, that policy problem has become more severe with recent South American moves towards integration, a prerequisite for independence, and establishment of more varied international ties.

Establishing US military bases in Colombia is only one part of a much broader effort to restore Washington’s capacity for military intervention. The US Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950, was reactivated in 2008, shortly after Colombia’s invasion of Ecuador, with responsibility for the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the surrounding waters and there has been a sharp increase in US military aid and training of Latin American officers. US plans also include the setting up of 13 military bases in Latin America with 7 in Colombia which has a long land border with Venezuela. The relationships between the two countries vary between warm and cold but have deteriorated in recent years -see:

 Palanqueroin Colombia is at the heart of a ten-year, renewable military agreement signed between the United States and Colombia on October 30, 2009, which gives Washington access to seven military bases in the country. Though officials from the U.S. and Colombian governments contend the agreement is aimed at fighting narcotraffickers and guerrillas within Colombian borders, a U.S. Air Force document states the deal offers a “unique opportunity” for “conducting full spectrum operations” in the region against various threats, including “anti-U.S. governments.” Moreover, senior Colombian military and civilian officials familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press that the idea is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations.

The Pentagon sought access to the bases in Colombia after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa canceled the lease for the U.S. military base in Manta, Ecuador. The U.S. capability in Colombia will now be greater than at Manta, which worries human rights advocates in Colombia and left-leaning governments throughout the region. The Bogotá based opposition senator Jorge Robledo of the Polo Democrático Alternativo recently stated that “The main purpose of expanding these bases is to take strategic control of Latin America,” .

Every president in South America outside of Colombia is against the bases agreement, with Hugo Chávez of neighbouring Venezuela being the most critical. Chávez said that by signing the deal the United States was blowing “winds of war” over the region, and that the bases were “a threat against us.”

“Colombia decided to hand over its sovereignty to the United States,” said Chávez in a televised meeting with government ministers. “Colombia today is no longer a sovereign country. . . . It is a kind of colony.” The Venezuelan president responded by deploying troops to the border in what has become an increasingly tense battle of words and flexing of military muscle.

Correa in neighboring Ecuador said the new bases agreement “constitutes a grave danger for peace in Latin America.”

Colombian President Alvaró Uribe dismissed critics and said the increased U.S. collaboration was necessary to curtail violence in the country. Uribe told The Washington Post, “We are not talking about a political game; we are talking about a threat that has spilled blood in Colombian society.” 

But the scale of the plans for the expansion of the bases points to the intent to prepare for war and intimidate the region, likely spilling more blood in the process.

The Palanquero base, the largest of the seven in the agreement, will be expanding with $46 million in U.S. taxpayers’ money. Palanquero is already big enough to house 100 planes, and its 10,000-foot runway allows three planes to take off at once. It can accommodate enormous C-17 planes, which can carry large numbers of troops for distances that span the hemisphere without needing to refuel.

The intent of the base, according to U.S. Air Force documents, “is to leverage existing infrastructure to the maximum extent possible, improve the U.S. ability to respond rapidly to crisis, and assure regional access and presence at minimum cost. . . . Palanquero will provide joint use capability to the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines, and U.S. Interagency aircraft and personnel.”

The United States and Colombia may also see the bases as a way to cultivate ties with other militaries.

The University of Aberdeen is a charity registered in Scotland, No SC013683.

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