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.