US builds up its bases in oil-rich South America
From the Caribbean to Brazil, political opposition to US plans for 'full-spectrum operations' is escalating rapidly
By Hugh O'Shaughnessy
Sunday, 22 November 2009
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.
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.
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela
bases agreement could mean the possibility of war with Colombia.
Evo Morales of Bolivia
called for the outlawing of foreign military bases in the region.
President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras
that US forces stationed at the Honduran base of Palmerola collaborated with Roberto Micheletti,
Brazil had already expressed its unhappiness at the presence of US naval vessels in its massive new offshore oilfields off Rio de Janeiro,
US gets half its oil from Latin America
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.
Indications of US willingness to envisage the stationing of nuclear weapons in Colombia are seen as an additional threat to the spirit of nuclear disarmament.
four more nuclear-weapon-free zones were set up in Africa, the South Pacific, South-east Asia and Central Asia.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI),
the bilateral agreement on the seven Colombian bases,
risks a costly new arms race in a region.
rising arms expenditure in Latin America draining resources from social programmes that the poor of the region need.
set out in May
US Air Force (USAF) proposal for its military construction programme for the fiscal year 2010.
"in a critical sub-region of our hemisphere where security and stability is under constant threat from... anti-US governments".
Palanquero which, the USAF says, offers an opportunity for conducting "full-spectrum operations throughout South America.... It also supports mobility missions by providing access to the entire continent
if fuel is available
over half the continent if un-refuelled". ("Full-spectrum operations" is the Pentagon's jargon for its long-established goal of securing crushing military superiority with atomic and conventional weapons across the globe and in space.)
Palanquero could also be useful in ferrying arms and personnel to Africa via the British mid-Atlantic island of Ascension, French Guiana and Aruba, the Dutch island off Venezuela. The US has access to them all.
The USAF proposal contradicted the assurances
That USAF proposal was hastily reissued
without the reference to "anti-US governments".
Civil strife in Colombia meant
number of displaced since 1985 to 4.6 million,
much-publicised one in Islamist-ruled Sudan where 2.7 million have fled from their homes.
Palanquero, which adjoins the town of Puerto Salgar on the broad Magdalena river north-west of the capital, Bogota,