By Dimitri Prieto
When I lived in London, my neighbor was an attractive young teacher from Ireland. One time we were talking about history and I mentioned to her the victory of the USSR over fascism. “But that’s not true… You’re kidding,” she said, stupefied, “The Americans won the war!”
Before going into a patriotic explosion, I began to reflect on this. The US presence in Europe goes beyond Big Macs and Coca Cola – there are military bases. The syllogism is perfect: Those who win leave their military bases, and if there are bases, it’s because they won. It’s the winner’s right.
Contrary to Eastern Europe, from where the Soviet Army left accompanied by almost unanimous boos from the inhabitants, Western Europe is still replete with the military presence of a foreign power.
Moreover, we know about these from the not-so-recent investigations on the uses of these bases during the era of George W. Bush.
I’m referring to the trafficking of people placed in legal limbo: people from Afghanistan and Iraq stripped of their rights and civic status to an existence known as “bare life.” European authorities often collaborated, but the leading role was played by the Americans.
There is also a base here in Cuba. At this facility there was and are committed the most horrendous atrocities. In Europe, Guantanamo is better known than Havana. At that base, civilization has been transformed into barbarism, and a military presence converted into a prison. This is a pending task for Obama to take on, worse than detestable, and a situation that has also been turned into a big excuse.
For the anti-militarists movements of Latin America, US bases are one of the biggest obstacles.
In Honduras, some sources assert that the airplane in which the president was kidnapped made a stopover at a base that the US maintains there.
Despite its history, Latin America is no longer an occupied territory (though Colombia is a case apart). The extraterritorial military forces of one country posted in another gives them a special status. To make matters worse, the US does not accept the jurisdiction of the international criminal court in those cases.
If that’s not imperialism, what is?