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27 January, 2017

Obama’s legacy in Latin America: Militarization, Right-Wing Coups, & The Rule of Wall Street

Independent geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser reviews the Obama’s legacy of destabilizing, militarizing, and exploiting Latin America.

by Eric Draitser of stopimperialism.org

Part 4 - Obama’s quiet militarization of Latin America

One of Obama’s great accomplishments in the service of the military-industrial complex was his below-the-radar militarization of the region. The pervasive myth of Obama as distinctly different from George W. Bush lives on in the diseased minds of liberal sycophants, but the facts tell a different story.

Obama represented continuity with, and an expansion of, the worst policies of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton when it came to Latin America. Plan Colombia, the broad heading for the billions of dollars spent on U.S. military engagement and cooperation in Colombia begun by Clinton and expanded by Bush, was further expanded under Obama.

Just totaling the military, police, and economic aid to Colombia for 2010 to 2015, the United States has given nearly $3 billion to Colombia in the form of “aid” to fight the so-called “War on Drugs,” widely seen as merely a cover for U.S. military power projection in South America. Add to that the fact that during Obama’s tenure, and under former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command William McRaven, special forces troop deployments ballooned to more than 65,000, with many spread throughout Latin America.

In an eerily similar fashion, Obama expanded funding and scope for the Mérida Initiative, a project launched by Bush in 2008 which essentially makes Mexico’s military and law enforcement into a de facto arm of the U.S. military and government. As with Plan Colombia (and AFRICOM), even though Obama did not launch this initiative, he expanded it significantly, providing more than $2.5 billion since 2008.

But if liberals want to soothe their broken hearts with the fact that Obama did not actually launch these programs, they might want to consider the Central American Regional Security Initiative, created by Obama in 2011.

According to a March 2014 report from the Igarapé Institute, an independent security and development think tank based in Brazil, CARSI and Mérida alone received nearly $3 billion (2008-2013). It is an open secret that the massive funding has been channeled primarily into military and paramilitary programs. Though the United States touts these programs as success stories, their expansion has coincided with increased militarization in every country where U.S. funds have been provided.

In El Salvador, the government led by President Mauricio Funes consolidated military control of law enforcement in the interests of its U.S. backers. These changes took place simultaneous to the implementation of CARSI, and should be seen as an outgrowth of U.S. militarization. In Guatemala, the government of Otto Pérez Molina, a former military leader with a record of atrocities and genocide, further militarized the country before being imprisoned for corruption in September of 2015.

Similarly, Honduras has been transformed into the U.S. military’s primary foothold in Central America. U.S. Coordinator of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) Lucy Pagoada explained in a 2015 interview that “[Honduras] has turned into a large military base trained and funded by the U.S. They even have School of the Americas forces there.

There have been high levels of violence and torture since the [2009] coup,” Pagoada continued.

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