Obama’s Disturbing Tilt to the Right on Latin America

Sunday, August 8, 2010

As Americans enjoy the dog days of summer, baseball, ice cream and vaguely prepare for the start of the new school year, under the leadership of President Obama, the U.S. Navy has dispatched the USS Makin Island, an enormous 42,800 ton amphibious assault aircraft carrier capable of carrying 3,200 sailors and Marines, to South American waters. The ship made visits to several ports of call including the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the Chilean town of Valparaiso and the Peruvian capitol of Lima.

But the USS Makin Island could soon be deployed to Costa Rica — the small, Central American nation who prided itself on its pacifistic principles. In a region plagued by violence, Costa Rica has historically to stay above the fray, In fact, Costa Rica hasn’t had an Army since 1949. With a small population of just four million, it is seen as safer than its Central American neighbors and an attractive destination for tourists and many U.S. retirees.

So why would newly elected Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla invite the U.S. Navy to patrol its waters? Ostensibly, the American Navy will be deployed to help stem the flow of illegal drugs from Mexico into Costa Rica. U.S. ships would stay for at least six months to assist counter-narcotics operations by government officials. Costa Rica as a transit point for drugs coming from Colombia and Panama and without armed forces and with long coastlines and poorly guarded borders, Costa Rica is vulnerable to the machinations of technologically advanced drug cartels.

Costa Rican authorities say Mexican cartels have infiltrated their country. Recently, local police seized more than a ton of cocaine at a house outside the capital and detained two Mexicans with alleged ties to a Juarez cartel. Meanwhile, the Costa Rican prison system has been put under enormous strain as the inmate population has soared. With a spike in drug-related crime, the prisons have spilled over and become more violent.

The arrival of the U.S. Navy to Costa Rica have sparked widespread suspicions that the Obama administration is looking for a justification to remilitarize the Central American region. According to Truthout writer Nikolas Kozloff, an article written by Tom Hayden, a veteran activist and journalist claims that Obama met secretly with Venezuelan President Chávez during an April 2009 Summit of the Americas held in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Hayden’s source for the meeting is an unnamed Venezuelan official.

In Trinidad, Obama spoke famously of resetting U.S. relations with Latin America, but, in practice. the freshman American president seems unable or unwilling to alter Washington’s inherently militaristic approach to foreign policy. Obama’s military escalation in South America is by now well known, but what is less publicized is the startling remilitarization occurring to the north in Central America. A region that has seen the election of more progressive governments to power in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. This trend has created a certain degree of friction as Central American nations have sought to ally themselves with Venezuela.

The Obama administration is looking for ways to bring these nations back into U.S. orbit, as has recently happened in Panama with the election of right-wing Ricardo Martinelli’s pro-military, anti-labor administration. Washington is looking for more allies to counterbalance Nicaragua and other reformist regimes, and Costa Rica, a peaceful nation which has sought to remain on the sidelines of the region’s past turmoil, now finds itself in something of a political quandary as the U.S. Navy deploys to its pristine shores.

To read more on the topic of Central America and the Obama administration, please click HERE.

This entry was posted in Central America, Costa Rica, Foreign Policy, International News, Military, News, President Barack Obama and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Obama’s Disturbing Tilt to the Right on Latin America

  1. Joe in Colorado says:

    I remember saying to someone I thought was fairly well informed, “Thank goodness, the CIA is out of Guatemala after all those decades.” He replied, “The CIA was in Guatemala?” So much about the role of US of A and our treating Central and South America like a board game over the past 40 years is just unknown to most Americans. It’s a shame Obama can’t resist the urge to use the military to meddled in the region but he’s really no different from Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both of the Bush men. Obama is beginning to scare me.

  2. Big Hank says:

    The deadly, Mexican drug cartels are a very real fact of life and they have started making end roads into U.S. cities like Phoenix and Las Cruses.

    What pisses me off is, why do we have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan when they should be stationed along the 2,000 mile border the U.S. shares with Mexico? The job of the military is to protect the American people — not the Afghans.

  3. Arizona Leatherneck says:

    Actually, the CIA started to meddle in Guatemala as far back as 1953.

    It was around the sametime the US meddled in Iran and reinstalled the hated Shah against the will of the Iranian people.

    The CIA operation in Guatemala was known as Operation PBSUCCESS and lasted from late 1953 to 1954. The CIA armed and trained an ad-hoc “Liberation Army” of about 400 fighters before the US drastically stepped up both its covert and overt campaigns. In 1954 the US Navy began a military blockade of Guatemala.

    All of this because the US hawks didn’t approve of the communist-leaning Guatemalan President Arbenz.

  4. feminazi says:

    So if Mexican President Felipe Calderon asked the Obama administration to send troops to help defeat the drug cartels, am I to understand Obama would do it? If ever a nation needed help to defeat a force threatening a way of civilized life, it is Mexico and the drug cartels.

  5. Big Hank,

    Mexican drug cartel activity and violence has been found in Phoenix, Tucson, Las Cruses, Albuquerque, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, Las Vegas, Chicago, Laredo, and Atlanta.

    If the US doesn’t act now to stop this scourge from further entering American cities, one day we will look back and scratch our heads in wonderment and ask why we didn’t act when we had a chance.

    I find it more than a little ironic that Obama can respond to requests from the newly elected Costa Rican president for assistance but, has placed nation building in Afghanistan ahead of securing our border with Mexico.

  6. MichaelKnows says:

    Was I so wrong when I predicted things could only get worse…… was I?

  7. Walk on Socks says:

    Heady stuff for a Sunday morning.

    Naturally, I had no idea Obama received a request from the president of Costa Rica for military help pushing back against the drug cartels. These are the sort of stories that belong on the front page of the vaunted New York Times and Washington Post but these days, neither paper seems too interested in printing any story that has the potential to paint President Obama in a less than sterling light.

    Curious, wouldn’t you agree?

  8. bradfrmphnx says:

    The root of the problem south of our border, is the drug cartels in Mexico. That is where our attentions must lie. You would know that if you lived where I do. I used to go to Mexico 2-3 times a year to play, now, I won’t even go to Tuscon.

    While there might be some kind of logic in trying to go after the drug activity in Costa Rica, I fail to see why Obama hasn’t done more to secure our borders, both north and south. And as someone said why we are supporting the war in Afghanistan when we can’t even secure our own border. Janet Napalitano has failed on more than one account.

  9. Pegasus says:

    When will people admit Mexico is a failed state?

    2% of the people control 90% of the wealth. I’m not giving a pass to the drug lords — listen, they behind the deaths of more than 25,000 people in Juarez alone in the past 5 years.

    But the truth is, there would be no all-powerful drug cartels or illegal immigration to the states if Mexicans has jobs and prosperity.

  10. MichaelKnows says:

    Maybe if we, the United States, ended our disasterous, wasteful, as much as $300 billion dollars wasted so far ”War on Drugs” we wouldn’t need to have our Military spread out over as much of the Planet as we now do…………

  11. Gleneagle says:

    Inequitable distribution of wealth, rising drug crimes, and high unemployment?

    Mexico? Latin America? Sounds like a description of the United States of America.

  12. Estacada says:

    Central America isn’t a U.S. colony and the Middle East and Central Asia isn’t part of the U.S. Empire.

    I guess I wrongly assumed President Obama, with his Harvard education, had a better read and take on the foibles of “empire.” Maybe the bankers control him after all?

  13. retahyajyajav says:

    The irony to me is, we can’t fix our own national problems, like slowing national debt, creating new jobs, and ending two completely useless wars but, we think we can come to the aide of President Laura Chinchilla and help her fix Costa Rica’s drug problem.

  14. as long as drugs remain illegal – and the us chooses to fight this unwinnable war (we do that a lot) – the violence and the corruption will get worse and worse.

    there is an insatiable habit north of the Rio Grande – and the countries south of it are only too happy to oblige.

    make the stuff legal, take the profit out. no one has ever been able to explain the hypocrisy of having legal alcohol and tobacco, but not marijuana or other drugs.

    but remember the US LOVES war – war on despots, war on drugs – we think war is one big john wayne movie!

    then again when does anything the US does make sense anymore

  15. fran says:

    9-11 to the world.

    And, seriously, Christopher…. you think we are “nation building” in Afghanistan?
    No, it is a cat & mouse bloodbath- similar to that of Iraq…. they don’t have time to build because violence keeps flaring up every time the troop saturation is removed.

    DCap is right- take the profit out of drugs & buh bye cartels.

  16. Rogerio Simonetti says:

    Please Google “American fruit company.”

    5.8 million entries about Guatemala, the CIA and the USA’s activist, military antics in Central American in the 1950’s. It’s a shocking and stunning legacy and not what we want to see reoccur in Costa Rica.

  17. Stephan Iversonn says:

    Deploying the USS Makin Island to Costa Rica will just further help to destabilize Central America, as the region moves toward greater peace, cooperation and intra-nation integration.

    The US can’t stand the idea of not controlling the foreign policy of the region. It’s pure, unadulterated colonization mentality by the boys in the Pentagon.

    If the game is a staging area to invade Venezuela and overthrow Chavez, what better way to grease the wheels than create a military base in peaceful, nearby Costa Rica? I, for one, don’t believe for a second that Obama told Chavez the US would leave him alone.

    The balance of power in Central America is again being determined by US generals playing a highly dangerous game of Chess with human pawn pieces.

    Who said, you can’t plan for war without going to war?

  18. Excellent, outstanding comments everyone.

    Thanks for your thoughts and insights. I am deeply troubled the Obama administration is militarizing Costa Rica.

    Central America has been at the losing end of the stick for decades and just when the region seemed to be recovering from proxy and guerrilla wars — many at the hands of the CIA and USA, here we go again into the fray.

    This is not what I voted for in 2008.

  19. Adirondacky says:

    Do you guys think the large number of US retirees living in Costa Rica could have factored in Obama’s decision to agree to send the USS Makin Island? I mean, there’s no way Costa Rica wants the revenue from all those retirees threatened by drug cartel crime.

  20. Jolly Roger says:

    Quite frankly, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.

    You have to think about it from the long-term perspective. The sooner we run out of money, the sooner this bullshit stops once and for all. We’re close now, so very close. It won’t take a whole lot more.

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