sexta-feira, 24 de abril de 2009

The United States has secret military bases in Peru: a deal that included a free trade agreement and political alliances

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The United States has secret military bases in Peru: a deal that included a free trade agreement and political alliances

The U.S. government wants to take control over the natural resources of South America, and increase its political and economic power in South America, through its military bases in Peru and Colombia.

New Horizon Peru 2008 "humanitarian" assistance mission. Photo U.S. Department of Defense

The old European ways of colonialism included the invasion of other people’s land and the administration of their resources and slavery of the colonized people. That model doesn’t work anymore, so now the United States is running a new way of colonialism, through its military bases around the world. It is a whole military empire, according to historian Chalmers Johnson.

This fact is supported by several scholars and activists, and I have based this post partially in their work - including David Vine, an anthropologist and author of the book “Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia" (Princeton University Press, 2009) and professor at American University.

Also I refer to Hugh Gusterson, an anthropologist and professor at George Mason University and author of the books Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War (University of California Press, 1996) and People of the Bomb: Portraits of America's Nuclear Complex (University of Minnesota Press, 2004).

As the United States faces an economic recession, instead of cutting spending, more military bases are being opening around the world: the U.S. Southern Command has reopened its 4th Fleet in Latin America, and launched Africom in Africa.

Currently the U.S. has over 1,000 military bases around the world, according to Hugh Gusterson, and that network makes up 95% of foreign military bases in the world. The U.S. 2009 defense budget reaches over $651 billion dollars (PDF file) and to maintain the bases overseas the U.S. spends over $102 billion dollars annually. Only in Germany the U.S. has 227 military bases. Gusterson says this is the time to shut down overseas military bases, but that is not happening in Peru and South America, as we can see.

Targeting Peru and Colombia

The intention of American military bases in South America is to reassure the U.S. influence over the region, where democratically elected leftist governments are gaining momentum in most countries.

SOUTHCOM Map. U.S. Department of Defense

Governments run by Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa constitute an obstacle to the unregulated extraction of natural resources by American corporations.

U.S. military bases might be located in Lima, Ayacucho y Pucallpa.

As I have wrote before in this blog, there are close ties between the U.S. Peru Free Trade Agreement - FTA and the chance of the U.S. opening a military base in the Andean country.

Thus, a secret deal might have been agreed between the Alan Garcia government and the Bush administration in order to build more than one secret base like the one spotted in the Ayacucho region, in the central Andes region of Peru.

This deal could have been part of the reason why the Peru FTA was passed by the U.S. Congress with such extraordinary majority, days after Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates asked Congress members to do so.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia, left, greets U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates at the Presidential Palace in Lima, Peru, Oct. 5, 2007. Photo by Tech Sgt. Jerry Morrison, U.S. Air Force (RELEASED) Defense Dept. photo by Tech Sgt. Jerry Morrison, U.S. Air Force

The FTA is an agreement that harms the future of most Peruvians, but greatly benefits American corporations and the wealthy elite of Lima. In fact, for many the NAFTA-like commercial pacts are ways of U.S. imperialism and appropriation of natural resources and cheap labor from poor countries like Peru. Those are things that the U.S. needs to continue to growing economically and to compete with China, Russia and others.

According to David Vine, the U.S. government is looking for new sites in Colombia and Peru to open military bases. Please watch this video:

This map of the U.S. military bases in the world is also included in the book of David Vine:

Autor: David Vine, Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia (Princeton University Press, 2009)

How the US-Peru FTA became a reality

And we thought it was decided by the U.S. and Peru Congress members.

By January 22, 2007 the new Ambassador of Peru to the OAS, Antero Flores-Araoz presented his credentials in Washington, DC. Flores-Araoz has been one of the most fervent defenders of the Peru FTA and his presence in the US might have responded to other reasons than to represent Peru solely.

By May 10, 2007 then sub secretary of State John Negroponte traveled to Lima to meet with president Garcia. He was the former Bush ambassador to invaded Iraq, and close adviser to Henry Kissinger in Latin American issues, being involved in the Plan Condor and U.S. sponsored Central America's Contra war scandals. Negroponte also met with several Peruvian authorities, including then minister of Education (!) Jose Chang.

In October 2007 the Secretary or Minister of Defense of USA, Robert M. Gates -appointed by Bush and confirmed in office by president Obama- went to Lima and met with then Peruvian Defense Minister Allan Wagner and President Alan Garcia at the Government Palace in Lima.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush greets Peru's Defense Minister Antero Flores on his arrival at the airport in Lima November 21, 2008. Bush was in Peru to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Official versions of the Peruvian media said that Gates met with Peruvian authorities to discuss common security issues, including illegal drugs and weapons trafficking, narco-terrorism and transnational crime.

Two months after the trip of Gates to Lima, the U.S. Senate unexpectedly approved the controversial Peru FTA on December 4, 2007. By December 20, 2007 Antero Flores-Araoz was appointed as the new Minister of Defense by the Garcia administration, and he has kept silence during the U.S. military missions to Peru since then.

Meanwhile the government of Alan Garcia had already granted concessions of about 73% of the Amazon forest region of Peru, benefiting mostly in oil and natural gas American corporations. This followed the case of Camisea, a rich gas project taken over by Hunt Oil, whose owner is a close friend of Bush and one of the military contractors behind the invasion of Iraq.

One of the U.S. military bases might be located in Ayacucho

In March 2008, barely three months after the U.S. Senate approved the Peru FTA, the government of Peru announced through its Ministry of Defense, that they were talks with the U.S. government in order to build "a Medical Center and an and Joint Intelligence Operations Center” in the Pichari region where a small Peruvian Army base is located

The newspaper La Primera (Lima) published the evidence - translation by me:
The [Garcia] government had denied completely for the possibility of the U.S. installing a military base in our country, but La Primera had access to an official document certifying that the Ministry of Defense had coordinated with the former Peruvian Army General Commander, Edwin Donayre at the request of United States of America, for the construction of a Joint Operations and Intelligence Center at the base of Pichari in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene Rivers (VRAE).

By the official document 058 VPD/A/SEC, dated March 10, 2008, the Vice Minister for Defense Policy, Nuria Esparch Fernandez, tells Donayre that the Defense ministry has talked with the Southern Command, through the Consultative and Military Support Group of United States of America, about the construction of "a Medical Center and a Joint Operations and Intelligence Center in the field where the Peruvian Army Pichari base is located.”

In that regard, Esparch requested the release of all documents certifying that the land belonged to the Armed Forces and asked to perform the necessary connections for this purpose with the vice admiral Mario Sanchez Debernardi, general director of Policy and Strategy at the Ministry of Defense.

Pichari is a small village located in the eastern side of the Andes Mountains of Peru, near the town of Siva and in the edge of the Ayacucho region, by the Apurimac River.

Google Earth satellite photos

It is not coincidence that satellite imagery from Google Earth -made with information provided by the U.S. Navy- show the region of Pichari with a better resolution than the rest of that area, only possible in regions of international influence.

In those pictures one can even see the village streets of Pichari and it can be distinguished an area that could be the possible secret military base location. This is not a coincidence.

Inca Kola News states:
In fact, there might not be a formal US air base in Peru the same as the one in Ecuador, but anyone who hangs in the right places in lowland Peru more than a week knows the VRAE airbase, supposedly Peru soldiers only, is constantly packed full of US soldiers, planes, copters and air crew.
Ayacucho is also the region where the 1980 guerrilla insurgence started, with the Shining Path taking over most of the central Andean region, and is one of the strongest regions that supports leftist political leaders like Ollanta Humala, who has opposed fiercely the US-Peru FTA.

VRAE: the valley of the Ene and Apurimac rivers

The VRAE region is one of the most productive coca leaf growing areas in Peru, whose production is mainly aimed at drug trafficking.

Much has been said about the participation of DEA and other agencies of the United States government in the illegal drug trade. Perhaps the presence of this military base is due to that reason.

Then it might not be a coincidence that the Pentagon's Southern Command had chosen the nearby city of Ayacucho to launch its "humanitarian" program called New Horizons Peru 2008, which was conducted between June and August 2008.

This program –according to their website- provided with free medical care to more than 12,300 Peruvians, which something hard to understand why the U.S. is doing this, being a country where 47 million Americans can’t afford proper health care and insurance.

This is a video of the Peruvian Army installations on the outskirts of Ayacucho, used by the U.S. military program "New Horizons Peru 2008, between June and August 2008:

A potential U.S. military base in Peru wouldn’t need much space or funding. La Primera has an interesting thesis:
Sources of this newspaper said that the Joint Intelligence Operations Center is already operating since the end of last year in VRAE [months after the medical mission in Ayacucho] and they made clear that this base doesn’t require four walls and a flag, as we imagine a military base might look like.

They added that the United States alleged meddling in the internal affairs of Peru is proved with the document published today, because for these centers to operate they only need a space for intelligence gathering or the presence of instrumentation to monitor communications.

Southcom in Peru

In April 2008, the U.S. Navy reopened its Fourth Fleet after 58 years of being closed.

UNITAS naval exercises in front of Peruvian coasts. Photo by U.S. Department of Defense - U.S. Southern Command

The Fourth Fleet operates within the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which includes the Caribbean, Central and South America. Each year the SOUTHCOM conducts joint naval exercises with several countries in the region, including Peru in an operation called UNITAS.

SOUTHCOM includes the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and various American security agencies, and currently it has 1200 employees at the main base of Mayport, Florida.

Why does the U.S. want to open a military base in Peru

The United States has more than one reason to open one or more bases, now that Ecuador will close the U.S. Manta naval and air base in 2009. American interests in the region are large.

The website of the U.S. Southern Command says "we need to control the economic stability of the region." Latin America represents 40% of U.S. foreign trade. In addition, almost 50% of U.S. annual oil imports come from the Americas. Latin America exports half of its products to the U.S.

This includes illegal drug trafficking, being Peru the second top producer of cocaine in the world. Drug production and commerce is controlled by the U.S. in some way. Plus, progressive leftist governments emerging in Latin America pose a threat to this status quo.

Another reason for a military and intelligence presence of the U.S. in southern Peru would be to protect the interests of the oligarchies of both Peru and Bolivia, who unfortunately have close ties to the Obama administration. These oligarchies would be willing to do anything in order to maintain or regain control of the resources and political power in both nations, which used to be one Hispanic colonial jurisdiction.

Should an internal conflict occur in Bolivia or Peru, there is no doubt that the U.S. would intervene militarily in some way.

Bolivian President Evo Morales had warned Peruvians of that possibility back in June 2008:
"Facing the refusal of Bolivia and Ecuador to host U.S. military bases, they are now placing them in Peru. Some empires are trying to humiliate us with the excuse of combating terrorism, under the pretext of combating drug trafficking they want to install military bases," said Morales.
When Evo Morales said this, most Peruvian media insulted him as a clown who knew nothing about Peru and Peruvian president Garcia even asked him "to mind his internal affairs or face consequences..."

"We're heading towards a militarization process"

Pichari Valley. Photo by Ronald Cuadros.

La Primera reports that some Peruvians are already quite worried:
Ricardo Soberon, a specialist on drug issues, said that this document acknowledges that U.S. cooperation goes beyond the humanitarian assistance of dentists, construction of schools, because it is directly related to information management for the international war against drug trafficking.

"We're talking more than the presence of foreign troops, this is the use of Peruvian territory to collect intelligence information that will not be used by the government of Peru, nor the Peruvian government, but by foreign agencies," he said.

He added that this shows that U.S. military cooperation is aimed at the militarization of the region and that the Southern Command wants to have a physical facility that allows them to extract intelligence information because they are not going to install what we know as a military base in the country, "What is being done is to have a space where operations can be executed, which eventually will be geopolitically and military useful for the U.S.

What will you become when you lose your land

It seems that we Peruvians have already given our country -at least for the moment- to the interests of the U.S. government, whose influence in Peru has grown ever since the government Augusto Leguía, early last century, and now is getting out of control.

U.S. Marines distributed gifts to children of Lima shanty towns. Photo by U.S. Department of Defense - U.S. Southern Command

Historically the political class of Lima’s criollos have shown they would do anything in order to maintain their privileges. They have sold their souls to right-wing Chile and Spain in the past, and now they are doing it to the American expansionists.

Peru is gradually becoming a U.S. satellite country -we might be already that- due to the enormous American influence in our internal affairs and institutions.

This fact has been greatly strengthened since the pro-United States governments of Fernando Belaunde, Alberto Fujimori and especially Alejandro Toledo, an American citizen married to an American, and who filled his cabinet and advisory team with Americans, especially Jews.

The current domestic and foreign policy of the central government of Peru have given very clear signals, that something secret and damaging is happening in the nation, and most Peruvians seem to be unaware of that. We have seeing how the influence of corporate America in the world has caused unfair societies, human tragedies, wars and the destruction of our planet. We can't allow that to happen in Peru, can we? Or is it already happening for over a century now.

“The day is not far distant when three Stars & Stripes at three equidistant points will mark our territory: one at the North Pole, another at the Panama Canal and the third at the South Pole. The whole hemisphere will be ours in fact as, by virtue of our superiority of race, it already is ours morally.”

-President William Howard Taft, 1912

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