Muscling Latin America: The Pentagon has a new Monroe Doctrine (The Nation)
In September Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, delivered on an electoral promise and refused to renew Washington’s decade-old, rent-free lease on an air base outside the Pacific coast town of Manta, which for the past ten years has served as the Pentagon’s main South American outpost. The eviction was a serious effort to fulfill the call of Ecuador’s new Constitution to promote “universal disarmament” and oppose the “imposition” of military bases of “some states in the territory of others.” It was also one of the most important victories for the global demilitarization movement, loosely organized around the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, since protests forced the US Navy to withdraw from Vieques, Puerto Rico, in 2003. Correa, though, couldn’t resist an easy joke. “We’ll renew the lease,” he quipped, “if the US lets us set up a base in Miami.”
Funny. Then Washington answered with a show of force: take away one, we’ll grab seven. In late October the United States and Colombia signed an agreement granting the Pentagon use of seven military bases, along with an unlimited number of as yet unspecified “facilities and locations.”
Connect these dots: In Nigeria this week, Muslim youths set fire to a church, killing more than two dozen Christian worshippers. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been suffering increased persecution including, this month, a drive-by shooting outside a church in which seven people were murdered. In Pakistan, Christian churches were bombed over Christmas. In Turkey, authorities have been closing Christian churches, monasteries and schools. Recently, churches in Malaysia have been attacked, too, provoked by this grievance: Christians inside the churches were referring to God as “Allah.” How dare infidels use the same name for the Almighty as do Muslims!