Monday, October 31, 2005

Current US Military Operations in Paraguay Merit Close Watching

Recently published articles offer some new insights into what the US military may be doing in Paraguay:

In a Washington Times article, Walder Goes, a political consultant with close ties to politicians in Brasilia, is quoted as saying, "There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. at least wants that base in Mariscal [Paraguay] because they believe there are Arab terrorists in Paraguay…I'll bet there's a U.S. base there in a few years.”
As I mentioned in my piece, the US states that current military operations in Paraguay are focusing on humanitarian work. However, The Washington Times article points out that “of the 13 military exercises at the base in Mariscal, only two involved medical training.”

It also explains that “U.S. Special Forces units are to arrive in Paraguay next year for educational courses and counterterrorism training, including Operation Commando Force 6 scheduled for July through September.” This is beyond the initial time frame granted to the US by the Paraguayan senate and suggests that the US may indeed have plans to set up long-term military operations in the region.


I argue in my previous article
that the threat of terrorism in the triple border region where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet is being used by the US as an excuse for military operations in the region. A quote from the Times article backs up this argument: Luiz Moniz Bandeira, a Brazilian-U.S. foreign affairs analyst who has written several books on Washington-Brasilia military relations, said “I wouldn't dismiss the hypothesis that U.S. agents plant stories in the media about Arab terrorists in the Triple Frontier to provoke terrorism and justify their military presence."

Other disconcerting news comes from Jim Shultz, the director of the Democracy Center in Cochabamba, Bolivia who said recently that a “source of mine here claims that the US government has been carefully cultivating relationships with “anti-Evo [Morales]” forces in the Bolivian military, presumably for some sort of US-backed coup down the road.”

Prensa Latina reports that the “US FBI Director Robert Mueller arrived in Paraguay Wednesday to check on preparations for installation of a permanent FBI office in Asuncion…to cooperate with security organizations to fight international crime, drug traffic and kidnapping.”

As the political situation in Bolivia becomes more precarious, US operations in nearby Paraguay merit close watching.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It's an Upside Down World! Here are some things a citizen can do

Here is a very short list of suggestions for social action which I sent to an UpsideDownWorld.org reader who was interested in doing more in solidarity from the US with the hopeful social movements in Latin America and working to reverse the negative impacts of US foreign policy in the region:

Find out how your congress person and senator voted on CAFTA, the Central American free trade agreement which was passed by two votes this past summer. Free trade agreements like this facilitate corporate exploitation in poor countries, export US jobs abroad, promote sweat shop labor and don’t address the needs of the people. Once you find out how your political representative voted, you can call them up and talk with them more about the FTAA, (the Free Trade Area of the Americas) which is a larger trade “agreement” planned span across all of South America. The last vote showed that the vote for the FTAA will be a close one – if it even gets that far. Your conversations with your representative in the government could play a key part in stopping the FTAA. For more on how to do this, go to www.stopcafta.org

In the case of Paraguay, I've spoken with a human rights organizer there who is trying to spread the word about what the US military is doing in his country. (links) There is a lot of misinformation being distributed in Paraguay and it's hard for people to know what to believe regarding the US operations. This human rights activist, Orlando Castillo, would like English speaking folks to investigate US government documents and websites to find out what the US is really doing in Paraguay, what their intentions are etc. Once we find this out, we can send him the info, (I’d be happy to translate it into Spanish) and he can then use it to convince his fellow country people about what the US really is doing – which can lead to a broader resistance movement in Paraguay against the US military's activities there. Interested in working on this? Email me: ben(at)upsidedownworld.org

More info. on another opportunity to do solidarity work from abroad for a troubling situation in Honduras can be found HERE

The School of the Americas is a place in Georgia where Latin American assassins, dictators and torturers were trained by US specialists. This school still operates and the movement in the US to close it is a big one. Go to www.soaw.org for more info. on organizing efforts near you to protest the School of the Americas in Georgia this November.

If you’re tired of the lack of real coverage of Latin American issues and topics, make your own media. You can write for UpsideDownWorld.org, start your own blog for free at blogger.com, publish work on the indymedia.org sites and so on. Writing letters to editors at your town or city’s newspaper is another great option. Often the smaller the town, the bigger the stir and discussion a controversial letter can create.

You could also go to the Social Forum in Venezuela this winter. I am helping to organize a delegation there through the other publication I edit TowardFreedom.com. Want to go? Click HERE.
for more info.

There is also always the option of following in the footsteps of Bolivian activists; when the government doesn't represent our demands, blockade roads until the politicians listen...

Our inaction and apathy enables the large corporations and imperialist governments to do what they do. They want us to think we’re powerless, which of course, we are not.

Have some more ideas? Please list them as a comment below.