U.S. Plans More Militarization of Colombia

Reprinted from The Worker, newspaper of the Workers Party, USA, July 29, 2009

The Obama administration is negotiating a deal with the Colombian government that would allow the U.S. military to run its operations directly out of five Colombian military bases.

The agreement, due to be finalized in August, would allow the U.S. to begin operating out of three Colombian airbases and two naval facilities. The White House has also requested that Congress earmark $46 million for the expansion of one of the airbases, Palanquero, in central Colombia.

For years the U.S has carried out "Plan Colombia," a counter-insurgency program drawn up by the Pentagon under the Clinton administration with the goal of crushing the popular movements in Colombia and strengthening direct U.S. military presence throughout the Andes region. Under "Plan Colombia," the U.S. has dispatched thousands of military "advisers" and mercenaries to Colombia, equipped the Colombian army with billions in munitions and established U.S. bases in Ecuador, Peru and elsewhere in the region.

The Obama administration's plan to set up new military outposts in Colombia is in reaction to the growing continent-wide movement against U.S. economic domination and political dictate which has included sharp struggles against U.S. militarization. In 2006, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa announced that Ecuador will not allow the U.S. to extend its use of the Manta airbase after its current lease expires in 2009. Bolivia also shunned U.S. interference when it expelled the U.S. ambassador and suspended U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency operations in 2008 due to espionage and conspiracy. Venezuela terminated bilateral military exchanges with the U.S. and expelled U.S. military officers from the country in 2005.

Leaders of a number of Latin American countries, including Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela immediately spoke out against the Obama administration's new plan. Bolivian President Evo Morales called those who would allow U.S. bases in their country "traitors to the homeland." Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is reviewing relations with Colombia and warned of the danger of new attacks being prepared by the U.S. against the countries of Latin America that are taking steps to defend their sovereignty.