Massive U.S. military presence in Costa Rica - español
Translation: David Brookbank
This past July 1st, the Costa Rican Congress authorized the arrival of 46 U.S. battleships and 7 thousand U.S. troops to the coasts of Costa Rica to carry out military operations, anti-narcotics missions and supposed humanitarian actions in the region.
According to the Costa Rican media, the majority of the warships are frigates measuring 135 meters in length and capable of transporting SH-60 or HH-60B Blackhawks, as well as 200 Marines and 15 officers on each ship.
But other ships and aircraft carriers involved, like the USS Makin Island, have the capacity to transport up to 102 officers and nearly 1500 troops, and are armored and ready for intensive combat. They are capable of transporting 42 CH-46 helicopters, five AV-8B Harrier combat aircraft and six Blackhawk helicopters.
Also authorized is the entrance of combat submarines, catamaran-type ships, and a sea-borne hospital, as well as reconnaissance and combat vehicles with the capability to maneuver at sea as well as on land. The USS Freedom will also arrive in Costa Rica with the ability to fight submarines.
Impunity for US soldiers
An official document sent from the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica to the Ministry of Security of the Central American nation explained the conditions of complete impunity that U.S. soldiers will enjoy. “U.S. personnel in Costa Rica will enjoy freedom of movement and the right to carry out activities they consider necessary to complete their mission”.
The authorization, requested by the new Costa Rican president, Laura Chinchilla, was approved by the Congress for a period of six months, until December 31, 2010. Nevertheless, political sectors in the Caribbean country are opposed to the measure and consider that “the warlike extent (of the U.S. military presence) violates the country’s sovereignty.”
The Costa Rican political parties Citizens’ Action (PAC), Social Christian Unity (PUSC) and the Broad Front (FA) also oppose the presence of the U.S. military, alleging that “the destructive power of the warships, helicopters, and Marines is disproportionate in relation to the war against narcotrafficking.”
Last year, the United States and Colombia signed a military agreement to permit the use of seven military bases in Colombian territory, as well as whatever other civilian or military installation that would be needed to carry out U.S. operations and missions in South America.
An official document of the United States Air Force revealed that its presence in Colombia was necessary to be able to execute “full spectrum” military operations in the entire continent. Additionally, the documents indicate that, from Colombia, U.S. forces could combat “the continuing threat of…anti-U.S. governments in the region,” referring to Colombia’s neighbors, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia, considered by Washington to be “adversaries.”
The Air Force document also refers to the training of U.S. armed forces to carry out “expeditionary warfare capability” in the region, using Colombia as a base of operations.
During the last four years, Washington has increased its military presence on the islands of Aruba and Curacao, where since 1999 it has maintained small advanced operations bases. The Dutch islands are located less than 70 kilometers from the Venezuelan coast.
After the tragedy resulting from the Haitian earthquake in January, the U.Ss sent more than 20,000 troops and disproportionate quantities of military supplies to that Caribbean country. The increasing U.S. military presence was viewed by many in the region as an attempt to militarize the Caribbean and to intimidate countries like Venezuela, classified by Washington as “a threat” to its interests.
The Costa Rican Constitution prohibits the presence of armed forces in its territory and declares the country a peace zone. The Central American nation does not even have its own armed forces or defense systems.
The surprising, disproportionate and massive U.S. military presence in Costa Rica appears to be part of a militaristic U.S. expansion in the region that seeks to recover its domination and influence over what it still considers to be its “backyard”.
Eva Golinger is the Editor in Chief of the Venezuelan Correo del Orinoco weekly. David Brookbank is a member of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity. This article may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the author, source and translator are cited.