HAVANA TIMES, April 22 – Despite the strong opposition it now faces in the Colombian parliament, the military agreement between that country and the US continues being put into operation. This began to become evidenced this past December when the first detachments of Marines and equipment started to arrive.
Colombia holds a strategically important position in the region: It shares borders with Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, and has access to the Atlantic Ocean via the Caribbean Sea and to the Pacific. The sentry post position provided by this enclave located in the heart of the Americas is basic in the strategic plans for the region by United States interests.
If Mexico is the “cork” to the south of the US, Colombia is its counterpart to the north of South America.
While modern satellites have demonstrated their effectiveness in locating fixed targets, those that are in movement demand more precise tracking. So far, this has only been accomplished by using closer-range detection equipment, such as that installed aboard military AWACS (aircraft equipped with radar and sensors that act more directly in theaters of military operation). Another basic function of AWACS is to cover “silent” areas that topographical features prevent from monitoring by satellite.
Information available on the types of bases being set up leaves no doubt that these involve the provision of facilities for operations aimed at more effective control at the tactical level for US military objectives in the region.
In this way, all communications and military movements, including those in bordering countries, remain under close and effective surveillance. Meanwhile the disposition of bases allows for almost absolute control over all the means of communications in Colombian territory, which is especially negative for guerrilla organizations given the implications for monitoring their movement, actions and camps.
The suspension by Ecuador of the US presence at the Manta airbase in Ecuador dealt a heavy blow to American control exercised from that site. The vast nearby territories of Peru, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Brazil, which were previously covered from Manta, must now be monitored from the military bases in Colombia, which will demand that AWACS fly greater distances and conduct reconnaissance from more distant points, which adds logistical and technical complication to that effort.
The strategic alliance between the Uribe government and the US —in addition to betraying Latin America and creating a wedge against regional integration— is part of the general thrust of the US for the ultimate control of the region’s natural resources, as well as the struggle against progressive governments and revolutionary, democratic, pro-independence and nation movements in the south of the continent.
This base relocation was affected so that all the countries of South America and the Caribbean do not escape US ambitions, although those most threatened by these military bases are Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia – precisely those Latin American nations that are pursuing socialist strategies and constitute the most important challenges to the Empire in the region (as well as Brazil, the strongest regional economic center).
The Colombian government has established its commitment to the US in the belief that it could better guarantee its national security. However, this unilateral focus on security can rebound on that government since this extra-regional military presence stimulates distrust on the part of that country’s neighbors, thereby fostering tension and —necessarily— responses. Many Colombians have come to understand this in that light and have begun to question the agreement.
*Pedro Campos articles can be read in Spanish in the SPD bulletin.