[fla-left] [Latin America] Remilitarizing El Salvador; U.S. carries out war maneuvers across Vieques (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at SPAMfreenet.tlh.fl.us
Thu Oct 19 16:27:56 MDT 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover

> Published on Wednesday, October 18, 2000 in the San Francisco
> Chronicle
> Remilitarizing El Salvador
> Editorial
> AMONG THE MANY foreign policy issues you won't hear mentioned by any
> of the presidential candidates is the fact that the United States is
> planning to build a military base in El Salvador.
> As the U.S. Army prepares to enter the civil war raging in Colombia,
> American military strategists are searching for a military beachhead
> from which to supply troops sent to Latin America.
> El Salvador is the country of choice because Panama, Costa Rica,
> Venezuela and Mexico have all refused American requests for what the
> U.S. military calls an ``anti-drug listening post.''
> U.S. officials insist that the American garrison will have a limited
> presence in this war- shattered country. The military, they say,
> would fly only two P-3 Orion reconnaissance planes, build a small
> number of radar outposts and station 60 American soldiers and their
> families in El Salvador.
> But according to the official accord signed between the United
> States and El Salvador, there is no limit on the total number of
> soldiers and planes or buildings on the new military base.
> Many Salvadorans are justifiably wary about the prospect of a new
> American military base. Twenty years ago, the United States
> supported an authoritarian right-wing government whose death squads
> waged one of the harshest anti-insurgency campaigns against leftist
> guerrillas in Central America. Fierce opposition in Congress and a
> vocal anti-war movement ultimately ended American support in 1992,
> but not before 70,000 people had lost their lives in a brutal
> 12-year war.
> Now former guerrilla fighters, who just last March won the majority
> of seats in the National Assembly, fear that the United States will
> attempt to undermine their electoral success. Their concerns are
> legitimate.
> American citizens should be concerned as well. As the United States
> pursues its militarized battle against drugs in Colombia -- without
> support from European allies -- our government risks spreading war
> throughout Central and Latin America.
> ______________________________
> Published Wednesday, October 18, 2000, in the Miami Herald
> U.S. carries out war maneuvers across Vieques
> Protesters yell at the military outside gates
> BY PAUL BRINKLEY-ROGERS pbrinkley-rogers at herald.com
> VIEQUES, Puerto Rico -- The Navy and the Marine Corps on Tuesday
> allowed only tightly controlled glimpses of this week's massive
> amphibious assault against imaginary enemy targets on Vieques as a
> small band of protesters yelled insults at military personnel
> through a barbed-wire fence.
> So much was at stake regarding staging the controversial training
> that the military marked turtle nests on the beach with signs to
> warn the 2,200 battle-equipped Marines to stay clear and officers
> escorting two dozen Puerto Rico-based news people made a point of
> declaring that armored vehicles were staying on established dirt
> roads and were not wreaking environmental havoc by plowing through
> the thorny jungle.
> Two thirds of Vieques, a 12-mile long island off Puerto Rico's
> picturesque east coast, has been controlled by the Navy and used for
> military training exercises since World War II. The war games, like
> this week's exercise, are part of a much larger operation being
> staged in the Atlantic from Oct. 9-29. They often include
> bombardment by warships, air attacks, artillery strikes and Marine
> Corps amphibious invasions all at the same time.
> But this week's invasion of Vieques, built around a scenario in
> which U.S. forces storm ashore to restore the authority of the
> fictitious Gordon Island government and neutralize revolutionaries,
> is taking place under unusual circumstances.
> Various Puerto Rican political and environmental groups have
> demanded an end to the Navy presence for decades, but the demands
> intensified after a civilian guard was killed in April 1999 by a
> bomb dropped by a Navy pilot who mistook the victim's guardhouse for
> a target.
> The incident resulted in the government of Puerto Rico and the
> Clinton administration signing an agreement that allowed the Navy to
> continue using its Camp Garcia facility on Vieques until 2003, but
> only under severe restrictions.
> The Navy had to agree to limit the training to 90 days a year.
> Instead of dropping real bombs and firing live shells, the Navy had
> to agree to use dummy rounds made of concrete -- something that robs
> young Marines of the reality of warfare, some commanders have been
> complaining this week.
> The Navy, chafing at these conditions and determined to try to hang
> onto its base, has hired a public relations firm to improve its
> image.
> In a sense it is racing against the clock because the 9,300 people
> living on the one-third of the island that is not controlled by the
> military will vote in a referendum in the next 14 months on whether
> the base should close.
> Two polls done by the Navy this year show that the population is
> opposed to the Navy staying. But Navy Lt. Jeff Gordon, public
> affairs officer for the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, said
> ``We are making progress'' in the fight to win hearts and minds. He
> said this includes allowing civilian use of a pier ideal for ferry
> boats and helping improve the island's only clinic, which is run by
> Puerto Rico's government.
> Tuesday's action materialized the day after a minor rock-hurling
> incident near the same gates to Camp Garcia where demonstrators
> shouted at military vehicles Tuesday. Police chased the three men
> who threw rocks at a Navy bus and questioned one of them but made no
> arrests. There was no damage, and no one was hurt.
> In May, more than 200 protesters were arrested after they invaded
> the Navy's training areas.

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