The International Conference on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases – 95 per cent of which belong to the United States
BY NIDIA DIAZ, Granma International*
HAVANA (8 March 2007) – THE fact that the United States has military bases all over the world is not news; neither is its news that it uses them to back its imperialist geopolitical strategies. What is new is that what until now was accepted as the unavoidable “right” of a large power is beginning to be questioned by a growing movement committed to peace and the survival of those of us who inhabit the Earth.
Precisely from March 5 to 9 of this year, activists, academics, Nobel laureates, and representatives of social and political movements planned to meet in Quito, Ecuador for the International Conference on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases – 95 per cent of which belong to the United States. There, they will discuss and adopt common actions for turning back the grand objective of the US government: constituting a global empire and destroying – as was the case with Carthage, the Roman Empire – all peoples and nations that oppose it.
It was not accidental that President George W. Bush said he would invade 60 or more “dark corners” of the Earth when he officially inaugurated his crusade of death under the pretext of a war on terrorism.
To do so, of course, he was counting on his impressive genocidal logistics: 737 military bases installed on all five continents, with approximately two million troops, according to revelations by Elsie Monge, president of the Human Rights Commission in Ecuador and by U.S. historian Chalmers Johnson, a scholar on the issue.
The figures, confirmed by the Pentagon, do not include – according to the professor – the 106 military garrisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor those in Israel, Qatar, Kirghizstan or Uzbekistan, nor the 20 it shares with Turkey.
Diverse sources affirm that, given its control over those installations, the United States has become the largest landowner in the world, situated on 2,202,735 hectares of land.
That entire apparatus is accompanied by the most sophisticated means of war, and by agreements and treaties with countries willing to obey its dictates with docility and servility, allowing it to spread its tentacles over more than 1,000 locations on the planet.
These agreements, to cite just a few, include the so-called “Forward Operating Locations” or “Cooperative Security Locations,” and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), all with the common denominator of guaranteeing impunity and intervention by U.S. troops, mostly in the Third World, given that that is where the world’s greatest reserves of hydrocarbons, fresh water and other natural resources are located, needed for its unbridled consumerist society.
In Latin America, our region, considered to date by our powerful northern neighbor to be its back yard, the United States maintains more than a few military bases whose strategic importance has grown in recent years to the same extent that there are more governments willing to put a stop to Yankee impunity and intervention, and thus rescue their already-besmirched sovereignty.
The naval base that Washington maintains on the illegally-usurped Cuban territory of Guantánamo, is an example of the diabolical use that the empire is capable of giving to these facilities. Since its invasion of Afghanistan and its genocidal war on Iraq, the Guantánamo base has become a detention and torture center, with the apathetic complicity of European governments who did not dare to support Cuba’s proposal to condemn those actions in the UN Human Rights Commission.
From that moment and given the revelations of former prisoners, the movement to close the Guantánamo base, because of its justness, has confronted the double standards that the White House tends to use to address the human rights issue.
Popular mobilizations in Puerto Rico forced the US Republican administration to close down its military base on Vieques, responsible for destroying the environment and the health of that island’s inhabitants.
With that fighting spirit, the movement is going to Ecuador, where a 10-year agreement signed in 1999 by the Ecuadorian government gave the United States the right to occupy and operate the Manta military base, which it uses to back its Plan Colombia, and which has become a launching pad for actions against our nations.
In Honduras, moreover, the Pentagon maintains the Soto Cano/Palmerolas base; in El Salvador, the Compalapa; in Peru, the Iquique; in Aruba, the Queen Beatrice; and in Curacao, the Hato Rey. That does not include the presence of Yankee military forces in Paraguay under the pretext of combating drug trafficking and terrorism in the so-called Triple Border area that unites that nation with Brazil and Argentina, which “coincidentally” possess the strongest economies to date in Latin America.
In the 1980s, moreover, the Pentagon built – in Paraguay’s El Chaco – a base 200 km from Bolivia and Argentina, and 320 km from Brazil which, in the new Latin American scenario, constitutes a perfect flank for aggression against those countries.
Ecuador, the country chosen for the International Conference for the International Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, is at the centre of heavy pressure brought to bear by the United States, given that there, 260 km southeast of the capital of Quito, the Manta air base has one of the largest landing strips in the region, where US planes fly over the waters and coasts of the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean to Florida, supposedly fighting drug trafficking.
A statement by Colonel Javier Delucca, the US administrator of the euphemistically dubbed Forward Operating Location in Manta, reflected his concern and that of his government’s regarding anti-US sentiment among Ecuadorians and opposition by newly-elected President Rafael Correa to extending the 1999 contract, which is due to expire in 2009.
And Delucca is worried because, according to the United States itself, Manta is an important location in the Latin American and Caribbean context, “because we are in a magnificent location for carrying out our mission.”
No comment is needed.
Those meeting in Quito to protest the military bases imposed by the United States and other world powers no doubt constitute the advance force of the increasingly growing human conglomerate that, beyond political and ideological differences and positions, is convinced that as History has shown by the fall of ancient empires, the new Caesars are willing to do anything to protect their interests and their delusions of grandeur.
*Granma International staff writer