Archive for the Puerto Rico Category

Pentagon Using Drug Wars as Excuse to Build Bases in Latin America [New America Media]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Colombia, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Pentagon, Puerto Rico, US imperialism, USA on June 10, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

News Analysis

by John Lindsay-Poland

Jun 03, 2011

Under the auspices of the drug war, the United States is returning to its historical pattern of using Central America and the Caribbean for its own military and strategic purposes.

Even as a growing chorus of voices throughout Latin America argue 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…

…In Guatemala, the United States last year conducted training and renovated barracks for the infamous Kaibiles special forces units, which have a base in the remote Petén department. The participation of Kaibiles in Guatemala’s attempted genocide was well documented, and more recently former Kaibilies were reported to have worked with the Zetas in Mexico, former soldiers who serve drug cartels as hired killers…

*** Remilitarizing Panama ***

Although the Panama Canal Treaties required closure of U.S. bases in that nation in 1999, the Pentagon has had an increasing presence in Panama in the last decade, as indicated by more than 700 contracts signed by Defense Department agencies for projects there since 1999. These include the construction of five different military bases on Panama’s coasts…

*** Cycles of U.S. Military Presence, Retreat and Advance ***

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, when the United States frequently intervened militarily in Central America and the Caribbean, it did so primarily from the sea, using gunboats to impose its will during a period when it lacked fixed military bases in the region. The installations it established were often coaling stations to supply its naval power. That changed with the establishment of bases in Panama, Cuba, and Puerto Rico in the early twentieth century and World War II. Panama became the regional hub.

In the 1950s, the United States built up the Panama National Guard, which morphed into a more nationalistic and militarized force in the 1960s and 70s. In the wake of the 1989 U.S. invasion that dismantled Panama’s armed forces, the country constitutionally abolished the military.

The implementation of the Panama Canal Treaties in 1999, the expulsion of the U.S. military from Vieques, Puerto Rico, in 2003 and from Ecuador in 2009, the anti-imperialist influences on many regional governments, and the rise of Brazil and China as superpower players in the hemisphere, have placed U.S. military activities in Latin America on a more defensive footing.

Most of the military bases being constructed in Central America are naval bases, while the 2008 activation of the Fourth Fleet to deploy in Latin America has increased the tempo of naval exercises. The United States military, again, is coming mostly from the sea…

*** Plan Colombia, Continued ***

The U.S. military buildup in Central America runs parallel to similar developments in Colombia. There, the United States and Colombia signed an agreement in October 2009 that would have given the United States military use of seven bases in Colombia for ten years.

Last August, Colombia’s Constitutional Court struck down the agreement, because it was never submitted for Congressional approval or judicial review. Yet, even after the agreement was declared “non-existent” by Colombia’s highest court, the Pentagon initiated unprecedented amounts of new construction on bases in Colombia, including for an “Advanced Operations Base” for U.S. special forces.

U.S. military agencies in September 2010 signed contracts for construction worth nearly $5 million at three bases, according to official U.S. documents. U.S. military contracts for Tolemaida in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, were larger than the four previous years combined…

…“It is a flagrant violation of sovereignty,” according to former Constitutional Court magistrate Alfredo Beltrán Sierra. “Remember that the government already tried to justify the establishment of U.S. troops with a disguised agreement that the Court finally overturned,” he said.

The base agreement also provoked strong regional opposition in 2009 after Pentagon planning and budget documents referred to “anti-U.S. governments” and the use of “full spectrum operations” in the region, indicating that the Pentagon seeks to project military power in South America. The construction now of a U.S. “advanced operations base” in Colombia raises similar concerns.

Besides the new contracts naming military bases, there were also military contracts for $2.5 million in construction at unnamed locations in Colombia signed in September. Another military construction contract described as being for “Talemaida Avaition” [sic] for $5.5 million was signed in October 2009, just days before the United States and Colombia signed the base agreement. Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) obtained the contract information from a public website that posts federal contract information, including where the contracts will be carried out.

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?

John Lindsay-Poland is research and advocacy director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and author of Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama (Duke).

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

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Puerto Rico: Nationalist Party Denounces U.S. Persecution [Prensa Latina]

Posted in FBI, Puerto Rico, USA on February 6, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

San Juan, Feb 2 (Prensa Latina)

Puerto Rican Nationalist Party members are being hounded and persecuted by U.S. federal authorities, party chairman Francisco Torres charged Tuesday.

U.S. agents have searched the homes of party members of the party, tapped their phones and arrested and held them for hours with no excuse, Torres affirmed.

He took his own case as an example, saying that Homeland Security agents arrested him and his wife for five hours when they arrived at the international airport in New York from Spain.

Following the tradition of Pedro Albizu Campos, the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party leader and martyr, they will not yield to federal police pressures, Torres said.

The national committee of the party maintains that the action against its president "shows that the persecution and harassment of the pro-independence politician is incrasing [sic]."

The party demanded that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) explain its interference and aggression against the champions of national independence.

Article link here

Outrage Over Police Abuse, Torture of Puerto Rican Students [Prensa Latina]

Posted in Fascism, Puerto Rico, Torture on February 4, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

San Juan, Jan 31 (Prensa Latina)

Police attacks on University of Puerto Rico students participating in civil disobedience in front of Congress sparked outrage Monday by social organizations denouncing "torture and sexual aggression."

"It is unacceptable for a government that says it defends law and order to permit the torture of young people with their hands cuffed behind their backs and the humiliation of detained females students by openly molesting them and boasting impunity," various social organizations said in a statement.

Political analyst Benny Frankie Cerezo warned Puerto Rican Governor Luis G. Fortuño that the conduct of the police would lead the country to totalitarianism.

One of the founders of the ruling pro-annexation New Progressive Party (NPN), Cerezo urged the people not to stay quiet, saying vido [sic] footage depicts the actions of a fascist government similar to the Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet.

The students are protesting an 800 USD hike in enrollment fees, saying it will prevent about 10,000 students from attending university.

The Caribbean Project for Justice and Peace, the Shout of the Excluded from Puerto Rico, and the Dominican-Haitian ProChildhood Committee demanded Fortuño and Police Chief Jose Figueroa Sancha immediately rectify the abuse as a violation of human and civil rights.

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