Resistance to the military bases in Latin America

2007-03-07 00:00:00

"Every day, fourteen Colombian people die as a result of the armed conflict. Every day, more than 700 people are forcibly displaced by political violence," said John Lindsay who works for FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation) of Latin America and the Caribbean during the first press conference of the International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases.

He added that during this three day conference, some "4,000 people will be displaced from their homes and their land. In this moment, we can see that the Colombian government facilitates the dirty, bloody work of the paramilitaries." What's more, "the U.S. continues to send military assistance of 600 million dollars in military training so that the Colombian army can fight its own people."

"We have a different idea and that is to support the displaced population that today numbers more than 3.7 million people." Together we will look for new solutions to the armed conflict and propose new initiatives. The women's groups, young people's groups, indigenous people, Afro-Colombians, and farmers will come together in resistance to the guerrilla force, the army and the paramilitaries.

Nieve Solórzano of INREDH explained that the base at Manta serves a geopolitical purpose to facilitate PLAN Colombia and fight the Colombian guerrilla that has been an underground force for more than 40 years. She explained that the INREDH lawyer has demonstrated that the base in Manta, which comes up for contract renewal in 2009, is illegal because it was never approved by the Full National Conference or the Ecuadorian people.

The Manta Base has replaced the base in Panama in filling a strategic role that has maximum control over Latin America and the Caribbean. Solórzano declared "We have come together during this conference as national and international organizations to say NO TO ALL FOREIGN MIILITARY BASES; No to all the violence and human rights violations; No to the foreign control of natural resources, oil, minerals, and water; No to the control of peoples' movements!"

With the goal of establishing a link between the previous two speakers, Andres Thomas explained, "Here in Manta, the political hegemony of the United States involves imposing their power and imposing militarization. Several months ago, Comander De Luca said 'the base in Manta is there to support PLAN Colombia.' But this is an absolute violation of the sovereignty of the Ecuadorian pueblo because it imposes war on this neighboring population and involves Ecuador in a war that it is not part of."

The U.S. Embassy arranges trips to Manta for reporters from various news agencies about activities at the Base in Manta and its good deeds, such as English courses that the soldiers have offered. "We know well that these bribes are created to gain the local people's support of the U.S. military presence" and so that the U.S. can put more pressure on President Rafael Correa from within.

He added "we are here to build our strength, to create solidarity between movements that have been successful, like the movement in Vieques Puerto Rico that suffered 60 years of U.S. Navy presence!"

Cuban representative Lourdes Cervantes, of the Organization for Solidarity of African, Asian and Latin American Communities (OSPPAL), expressed her thanks for the opportunity to discuss global foreign military presence. "The presence of imperialist U.S. military bases is part of the politics of hegemony of the United States and it has to be confronted by resistance struggles from our communities."

She clarified that the U.S. military base in Guantánamo, Cuba is one of the oldest bases in the world and that it is completely illegal. The use of the base was confirmed by a bilateral treaty between Cuba and the U.S. in 1903 and attached as an appendix to the first independent Cuban constitution. The U.S. Congress had approved and imposed indefinite military presence in Cuban territory in 1901 under Platt Amendment.

Cervantes asked for the solidarity of the international community in the Cuban people's fight to recuperate their sovereignty over this territory that was illegally usurped, that has caused considerable economic damage and contamination. She added that "we all know that the U.S has created an international scandal of Guantanamo, claiming it is a center to fight international terrorism but maintaining a monstrous detention and torture center."