U.S. Militarization of Latin America

October 4 , 2004

The U.S. monopoly capitalist class has long considered Latin America as its "backyard" and imposed its colonial and neo-colonial rule on countries throughout the continent.

Today, as U.S. imperialism steps up its worldwide struggle to assert itself as the sole superpower, it is increasing its exploitation of Latin America and, in turn, increasing its militarization of the continent in order to suppress any opposition to its domination.

Within the last few years, the U.S. has invaded and occupied Haiti, increased its direct military intervention in Colombia (openly declaring that is waging a war against popular insurgency), tried to organize a coup d'etat and a destabilization campaign against the elected government of Venezuela. In addition, the Pentagon has been increasing its military presence throughout the region.

Today, as in the past, the U.S. militarization of Latin America is directed squarely against the people. Earlier this year, General James Hill, former head of U.S. Southern Command, testified before Congress admitting that U.S. militarization in the hemisphere is directed against "radical populists" who "are able to reinforce radical positions by inflaming anti-U.S. sentiment . . . [by] tapping in to frustrations caused by social and economic inequality." In order to deal with this "threat to U.S. national security," General Hill wants to further integrate the armies of Latin America directly under command structure of the Pentagon through "military to military contacts as means to irrevocably institutionalize the professional nature of those militaries with which we have worked so closely over the past several decades."

U. S. Military Bases in Latin America

Puerto Rico: Naval and Army National Guard bases

Cuba: Guantanamo Bay Naval Station (more than 8,000 soldiers)

Honduras: Soto Cano army base

Ecuador: Manta airforce base

Aruba & Curaco: forward-operating bases

El Salvador: forward-operating base at Comalapa

Colombia & Peru: 17 radar bases

The U.S. also maintains several smaller military bases in Antigua, Peru, Colombia and the Bahamas. In addition, U.S. military personnel are also deployed at bases which remain formally under the control of Latin American militaries in Peru, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.

Military Training

As part of keeping Latin American militaries under control, the Pentagon trains tens of thousands of soldiers and officers every year, training 22,831 in 2003 and a total of 72,495 in the period 1999-2003. The Pentagon trains army and police from every country in South and Central America, except French Guiana.

In addition, the U.S. sends $1 billion/year to finance the armies of Latin America.