As the saying goes, FOLLOW THE MONEY. Yet another Bush Ranchero. Hummmm Note: Paraguay, especially the remote Northern Part has a long history of being Nazi activity. I find it most interesting that the Bush Family, long-term supporters of the Nazi Movement have decided to buy land there.
from Trufax Website
recovered through WayBackMachine Website
Additional Report from WMR
WMR’s Paraguayan sources have confirmed that George W. Bush recently bought 42,000 hectares (over 100,000 acres) of land in Paraguay’s northern “Chaco” region.
The land, near the town of Chaco, sits atop huge natural gas reserves, according to sources in Asuncion.
Moreover, the land deal was consummated in a dinner meeting between Bush’s daughter Jenna and Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte.
Although Jenna, who was in Paraguay under the cover of a 10-day UNICEF trip to visit child welfare projects, put the Bush family seal of approval on the land deal, the actual legal papers were worked out by Bush family lawyers and business representatives. Jenna Bush is supposedly working for UNICEF in Panama City.
The Bush land is close to a new U.S. military installation, the Mariscal Estigarribia Air Base.
It is also nearby a huge tract of land purchased by Sun Myung Moon that sits astride Latin America’s largest water aquifer, the Guarani aquifer.
According to earlier Madsen reports, Bush and the Carlyle Group are also the owners of major tracts of land along the proposed U.S. super-highway linking Mexico and Canada (below image) land that will be worth hundreds of millions more when the highway is completed.
Fascists seem to have a penchant for escaping to this place.
Apparently Bush and cronies are allegedly buying land down there ..
CIA Fact book Data – Paraguay
The unruly region at convergence of Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay borders is,
October 18, 2006
Our paranoid friends over at Bring It On have put together a story that hasn’t exactly made Washington Whispers. It’s real short and real simple:
What the hell, after the jump. Plus a BREAKING UPDATE involving, of course, The Moonies!
Now, Prensa Latina is a Cuban-government operation that is not exactly friendly toward Washington, what with Washington trying to kill Castro for 50 years and all.
But Prensa Latina didn’t invent the story. It’s all over the South American press – and not just Venezuela and Bolivia.
As far as we can understand, all the paperwork and deeds and such are secret. But somehow the news leaked that a new “land trust” created for Bush had purchased nearly 100,000 acres near the town of Chaco.
And Jenna’s down there having secret meetings with the president and America’s ambassador to Paraguay, James Cason. Bush posted Cason in Havana in 2002, but last year moved him to Paraguay.
Cason apparently gets around. A former “political adviser” to the U.S. Atlantic Command and ATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, Cason has been stationed in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama… basically everywhere the U.S. has run secret and not-so-secret wars over the past 30 years.
Here’s a fun question for Tony Snow:
Here’s a little background on the base itself, which Rumsfeld secretly visited in late 2005:
BREAKING, UPDATE, LITTLE SIREN GRAPHIC
We’ve been directed to yet another parapolitical theory here at Rigorous Intuition, where it is reported that Rev. Moon bought 600,000 hectares – that’s 1,482,600 acres – in the same place: Chaco, Paraguay.
Another twist: The first story, from Paraguay, apparently refers to the senior George Bush as the owner of the 98.840 acres in Moon’s neighborhood.
Bush 41 was the first bigshot politician to go prancing around with Rev. Moon in public.
Isn’t that special?
Oh, and both the Moonie and Bush land is located at what Paraguay’s drug czar called an,
And it sits atop the one of the world’s largest fresh-water aquifers.
The Bush administration has sent troops into Paraguay.
They are there ostensibly for humanitarian and counterterrorism purposes. The action coincides with growing left unity in South America, military buildup in the region and burgeoning independent trade relationships.
In a speech on July 26 in Havana, Fidel Castro took note of the incursion and called upon North American activists to oppose it. In that vein, an inquiry is in order as to why the U.S. government has inserted Paraguay into its strategic plan for South America. In addition, we should look at factors that favor Bush administration schemes for the region and others that work against U.S. plans.
In December 2004, the Bush administration canceled $330 million in economic and military aid to 10 South American countries. They were being penalized for turning down a U.S. request for granting its soldiers immunity from prosecution for crimes they commit within the countries’ borders.
On May 5, however, the government of Paraguay took the bait. It signed an agreement authorizing an 18-month stay, automatically extended, for U.S. soldiers and civilian employees. The previous limit had been set at six months.
On May 26, in a secret session, Paraguay’s Congress passed legislation protecting U.S. soldiers from prosecution for criminal activity, both within Paraguay and by the International Criminal Court.
Reportedly, 400 or 500 U.S. troops – estimates vary – arrived in Paraguay on July 1, with planes, weapons, equipment and ammunition.
They are billeted at a base near Mariscal Estigarribia, a small city located 200 kilometers from the Bolivian border in the arid, sparsely populated Chaco area of Paraguay. That facility, built by U.S. contractors in the waning years of the Stroessner dictatorship (1954-1989), offers a runway long enough to accommodate large military transport planes and bombers. It provides barrack space for 16,000 troops.
Journalist and human rights activist Alfredo Boccia Paz, stated in Asuncion that immunity from prosecution for U.S. soldiers, extension of their stay, and joint military exercises all provide the groundwork for the eventual installation of a U.S. base in Paraguay.
He quoted Argentine Nobel Peace laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel:
The U.S. embassy in Paraguay declared that the United States has,
The government of Paraguay seconded that notion.
Brazil, however, responded. In late July, its army undertook military maneuvers along that country’s border with Paraguay. Paratroopers staged a mock occupation of the Furnas electrical substation, located on the Brazilian border with Paraguay.
Paraguay’s vice president, Luis Castiglioni, met with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and former Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs Roger Noriega last July in Washington. Observers suggested that this welcoming committee was unusually high-powered for a visiting vice president of a small South American nation.
According to Rumsfeld, experts would soon be going to Paraguay to develop a,
The secretary visited Paraguay in August. The FBI announced that it would be opening an office in Paraguay in 2006.
The official U.S. version of the Paraguay initiative is that for the next 18 months, in addition to joint military exercises, 13 U.S. military teams would be working on humanitarian aide projects, provide counterterrorism and police training and ameliorate the effects of poverty. It turns out that U.S. military personnel have been providing medical care for poor peasants in a northern province since 2002.
Boccia Paz commented:
There is of course no shortage of U.S. bases in Latin America.
They are located in,
New U.S. air bases are situated in,
The latter was officially described as a weather station on a dusty road, until it came out that a full-fledged air base had materialized on the site at a cost of $80 million.
Washington also operates a network of 17 land-based radar stations (three in Peru, four in Colombia, plus 10 mobile radar stations in secret locations.) All of these installations come are under the control of the U.S. Southern Command, based in Miami.
The U.S. rationale for converting Paraguay into a military satellite is worth exploring.
For one thing, Washington is responding in catch-up fashion to mounting popular resistance in the region to U.S. bullying. In neighboring Bolivia, for example, two U.S.-friendly presidents have been chased from office in the past two years. And mass opposition to the U.S.-backed candidate in last December’s national election was no exception to the trend.
There’s more. Paraguay’s neighbor, Uruguay, put a social democrat into the presidency in 2004, and last February President Kirchner of Argentina violated world financial orthodoxy when his government negotiated a 60 percent cut in Argentina’s $82 billion debt obligations. Both Argentina and Brazil have quietly rejected the FTAA.
Paraguay has joined them in the South American Common Market (Mercosur), which shelters its members from U.S. and International Monetary Fund dictates. For Paraguay to defect would serve U.S. ends.
Washington took major exception to declarations emanating from a gathering March 29, 2005 of Brazilian, Colombian, Venezuelan and Spanish heads of state at Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela. They had discussed the use of raw materials and regional trade patterns to combat poverty and secure peace in South America.
A few weeks later Washington was miffed when its candidate for the secretary generalship of the Organization of American States was rejected.
And right under the U.S. nose, Latin American nations are coming together to form Telesur and Petrosur, continent-wide television and energy corporations, and developing banking services that serve people’s needs.
Natural resources may also figure into the U.S. motivations for expanding its military presence in South America.
One branch of the main opening for a huge Bolivian natural gas field apparently crosses the international border and is accessible in Paraguay at the Independencia I site, not far from Mariscal Estigarribia.
If U.S. troops occupied the base there, they would be in striking distance of the Bolivian provinces of Santa Cruz and Tarija, where U.S. natural gas corporations are active. Bolivia will soon be voting on autonomy for the provinces. A “yes” vote is expected to result in privatization.
In the event of civil unrest following that outcome, the corporations could call for military protection.
The military base overlies the Guarani aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground fresh water reserves. Already water wars have riled Bolivian politics. Oligarchic interests in both the United States and South America have great longings to advance the process of turning water into a commodity.
The Bush administration has an additional interest in Paraguay through its war on terrorism. The so-called triple border, where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay meet along both sides of the Parana River, is the storied locus for smuggling, money laundering, commerce in child prostitutes, counterfeit operations, and fixing of illegal border crossings.
Some 20,000 Middle Eastern, Muslim expatriates, most of them Lebanese in origin, live in Ciudad del Este on the Paraguayan side of the river and Foz do Iguacu in Brazil.
The cities supposedly are centers for Islamic extremism and sources of funding for terrorist groups. Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah operatives reportedly have passed through the area, and training camps, sleeper cells, and passport factories are said to be located there.
After September 11, 40 FBI agents joined Paraguayan colleagues to investigate some of these networks. Dozens of suspects were arrested. U.S. military authorities advertise their operatives moving into Paraguay as experts in counterterrorism.
U.S. meddling in South America has great potential to add to existing tensions in the region as it adds its might to ongoing South American military expansion. According to Uruguayan Raúl Zibechi, an expert on the continent’s military landscape, South America is experiencing unprecedented military growth. Nations there have reacted to the excesses of U.S. Plan Colombia and to new military modalities, particularly the privatization of military forces on display in Columbia.
They are also attempting to emulate Brazil’s new posture of strategic military autonomy. And, as is their habit, ruling circles in many countries, following Washington’s lead, respond to social unrest through military expansion.
In December 2004, Venezuela agreed to buy 110,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 33 helicopters and 50 fighter-bombers from Russia. Spain supplied Venezuela with naval aeronautical material, 10 transport planes, and four coast-guard cutters. Venezuela will be buying 50 training and combat jets from Brazil. Venezuela earlier this year activated a two million-member reserve component of its national military force.
Yet according to the journal Military Power Review Venezuela comes in at sixth place among South American nations in terms of military strength. Brazil is far in the lead; Peru places second; Argentina, third; followed by Chile and Colombia.
Increased military power, operating in tandem with nationalist stirrings, may inhibit U.S. military meddling. Brazil, for example, with its own strategic defense plan and brisk economic growth, is an unlikely U.S. acolyte. The nation is the 10th largest industrial power in the world and has become the world’s fifth largest arms exporter.
Brazilian industry builds warships, several types of fighter jets, and is constructing a nuclear submarine.
And to facilitate its expanded trade with China, Brazil is paying 70 percent of the $1 billion cost of a 1,500 mile long highway that extends from Peruvian ports to Santos on Brazil’s Atlantic coast.
Brazil recently sent military planners to Vietnam to learn about guerrilla war.
The head of Brazil’s Amazon military command, General Claudio Barbosa, has predicted that Brazil may in the future face wars similar to the war that convulsed Vietnam and the one transpiring in Iraq now.
The priority would be guerrilla warfare,
What nation could the general be thinking of?
Brazil opposes Plan Colombia. The nationalist orientation of its industrial leaders persuaded them to put off joining FTAA. Brazil has no U.S. bases on its soil, nor does Brazil engage in joint military exercises with the United States.
Military cooperation between Brazil and Argentina apparently is flourishing, and in February, Brazil signed strategic accords with Venezuela. The Brazilian example of independent pursuit of national interests has emboldened other South American nations.
The single-minded pursuit of national interests, however, may work against popular struggle and Latin American unity. Analysts agree that Brazil and Argentina’s preoccupation with internal interests has created a power vacuum that encouraged Washington to court Paraguay successfully. Relations between the two nations have long been plagued by trade clashes.
Ideally, Brazil might have utilized its economic power to further Latin American unity and ward off predatory U.S. behavior. Instead it operates according to free market rules and, unlike Venezuela, looks for salvation through from the U.S.-led world market economy, distancing itself from Latin America’s agenda.
Worse, jostling for market advantage creates divisions that lay the region open to tactics of divide and rule.
The Herculean labors of unified democratic struggle elsewhere in Latin America point to strategies through which Bush scheming and U.S. military probing in the region might be resisted.
The organization now maintains a presence in nearly 100 percent of the municipalities in Colombia, and, according to Monthly Review,
Chávez forces in Venezuela, under the aegis of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), have fused the twin causes of Latin American unity and social justice.
Mass protests in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, even Chile keep empire minders in Washington on edge. The point here is that growing solidarity on the part of U.S. activists with struggles throughout Latin America may act as a brake on U.S. meddling in Paraguay.
Opposition likely will materialize within Paraguay itself. In recent years peasants there have mounted protests against privatization, economic restrictions imposed by the International Monetary Fund, unfair land holding patterns, and antiterrorism legislation.
There is no lack of awareness.
Orlando Castillo of the human rights group Servicio Páz y Justicia recalls that,
While attending the 2nd Jubilee South World Assembly in Havana, Sixto Pereira of the Paraguayan Initiative for People’s Integration told Cuban-based Prensa Latina:
Pereira indicated that mobilization against the presence of U.S. troops is gaining momentum in Paraguay.
Mariscal Estigarribia is a town in the Boquerón Department, Paraguay. It is located at around 22°1′60″S, 60°37′60″W, close to the borders of Bolivia and Brazil.
A military training agreement with Asunción, giving immunity to U.S. soldiers, caused some concern after media reports initially reported that a base housing 20,000 U.S. soldiers was being built at Mariscal Estigarribia within 200 km of Argentina and Bolivia, and 300 km of Brazil, near an airport which could receive large planes (B-52, C-130 Hercules, etc.) which the Paraguay Air Forces do not have.
The governments of Paraguay and the United States subsequently declared that the use of an airport (Dr Luís María Argaña International)  was one point of transfer for few soldiers in Paraguay at the same time.
According to the Clarín Argentinean newspaper, the U.S. military base is strategic because of its location near the Triple Frontera between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina; its proximity towards the Guarani aquifer; and, finally, its closeness toward Bolivia (less than 200 km) at the same,
In October 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush was reported to be negotiating for purchase of a 400 km² ranch in this region.
Why has Bush bought 150 square miles in northern Paraguay? (Hellie)
Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America, with a population of 6 million.
It’s one of the least densely populated countries, and has a super-high Gini index. Back in the day, its economy was dominated by a small number of landlords, with big loads of the population squatting on the fringes of their huge estates. The Gini index (the standard measure of income inequality) is predictably high – 56, by comparison the U.S. is at 45, France at 32, Brazil at 59.
Sounds like a great place for disgraced dictators to hide out.
Apparently also the U.S. has been planning to put up an air base near the Bolivian gas fields, near to Mariscal Estigarribia, close to the Brazilian and Bolivian borders.
Which of these facts best explains this intriguing news item?
If he follows through on such promises, he’ll face enormous pressure from the Bush administration, corporations and international lenders. If he chooses a more moderate path, Bolivia’s social movements are likely to organize the type of protests and strikes that have ousted two presidents in two years.
In the gas-rich Santa Cruz region, business elites are working toward seceding from the country to privatize the gas reserves. Meanwhile, U.S. troops stationed in neighboring Paraguay may be poised to intervene if the Andean country sways too far from Washington’s interests.
For Bolivian social movements and the government, 2006 will be a trial by fire.
However, he has played limited roles in the popular uprisings of recent years. During the height of the gas war in 2003, when massive mobilizations were organized to demand the nationalization of the country’s gas reserves, Morales was attending meetings in Geneva on parliamentary politics.
After the 2003 uprising ousted right-wing president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Morales urged social movement leaders to accept then vice president Carlos Mesa as Sanchez de Lozada’s replacement.
In June 2005, when another protest campaign demanding gas nationalization forced Mesa to resign, Morales helped direct the social movements into governmental channels, pushing for an interim president while new elections were organized.
Morales’ actions during these revolts were aimed at generating broad support among diverse sectors of society, including the middle class and those who didn’t fully support the tactics of protest groups. This strategy, combined with directing the momentum of social movements into the electoral realm, resulted in his landslide victory on December 18th.
In spite of Morales’ relative distance from social movements, his victory in a country where the political landscape has been shaped by such movements presents the possibility for massive social change. Once he assumes office, Morales has pledged to organize a Constituent Assembly of diverse social sectors to rewrite the country’s constitution. It is possible that this could allow for a powerful collaboration between social movements and the state.
Vice President-elect Alvaro Garcia Linera says such collaboration is possible.
He contends that MAS, the Movement Toward Socialism party which he and Morales belong to, is not a party but rather,
Oscar Olivera, a key leader in the revolt against Bechtel’s privatization of Cochabamba’s water in 2000, believes the relationship between social movements and the Morales administration will play a vital role in creating radical change in the country.
Olivera participated in the December election because he felt that it was part of,
To sustain their momentum and unity, an alliance between some of the most dynamic social groups was formed in early December 2005 in the first Congress of the National Front for the Defense of Water and Basic Human Services.
This alliance includes the Water Coordinating Committee of Cochabamba, the Federation of Neighborhood Councils of El Alto, the Water and Drainage Cooperatives of Santa Cruz, as well as neighborhood organizations, cooperatives, irrigation farmers, and committees on electricity, water rights and other services from all over the country.
In many cases, these autonomous groups have organized methods of providing citizens with basic services which the state fails to offer. Such a coalition of grassroots forces may pave the way for a nation-wide, alternative form of governance.
White House officials are wary of any deviation from its anti-narcotics plan in Latin America; a strategy they claim has been successful. However, U.S. government statistics and reports from analysts in Bolivia tell a different story.
A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office explains that,
In an interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Nicholas Burns, the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, said the Bush administration hopes,
Though it is a key ingredient in cocaine, coca has been used for centuries in the Andean region for medicinal purposes; it relieves hunger, sickness and fatigue.
It’s also an ingredient in Coca-Cola, cough syrups, wines, chewing gum, and diet pills.
The U.S. Embassy’s website for Bolivia suggests chewing coca leaves to alleviate altitude sickness.
Georg Ann Potter worked from 1999 to 2002 as an advisor to Morales, and since then has been the main advisor to the Coordination of the Six Women Federations of the Chapare, the country’s biggest coca growing region.
Potter explained that although Morales plans to continue a hard line approach against the drug trade, the current policies of the U.S. war on drugs need to change.
It’s widely held among critics of Washington’s anti-narcotics agenda for Latin America that the U.S. government uses the war on drugs as an excuse for maintaining a military and political presence in the region.
A report from the Congressional Research Service stated that the U.S. war on drugs has had no effect on the price, purity and availability of cocaine in the U.S. Potter explained that even the U.S. government admits that,
The Andean Information Network, a Bolivia-based NGO which monitors human rights issues in the U.S.-led war on drugs, recommends that,
It could fully nationalize the gas reserves and face the wrath of multinational corporations and lending institutions that want exactly the opposite to happen. Or it could renegotiate contracts with gas corporations, and partially nationalize the industry.
Choosing the latter option would likely generate massive protests and road blockades.
Social movement leaders have stated that if Morales doesn’t fully nationalize the gas, the population will mobilize to hold the administration’s feet to the flames.
Any move that Morales makes is likely to upset either corporate investors, social movements or both.
Previous Bolivian presidents Carlos Mesa and Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada walked similar gauntlets and ended up being ousted from office by protests.
A secession movement in Santa Cruz, the wealthiest district in the country, also threatens Bolivia’s peace. An elite group of businessmen lead the movement to separate Santa Cruz from the rest of the country, which would allow for the full privatization of the gas industry regardless of what protest groups, and the federal government, demand.
This group has been accused of maintaining militias organized to defend their autonomy.
Other methods of destabilization are already underway. Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the U.S. government has spent millions to support discredited right-wing political parties and stifle grassroots movements in Bolivia.
Between 2002 and 2004, a grant from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) allowed for the training of thirteen “emerging political leaders” from right-wing parties in Bolivia. These 25-to 35-year-old politicians were brought to Washington for seminars.
Their party-strengthening projects in Bolivia were subsequently funded by the NED. (4)
An airbase in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay is reportedly being utilized by hundreds of U.S. troops. The base, which was constructed by U.S. technicians in the 1980s under Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, is 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia and is larger than the international airport in Paraguay’s capital.
Analysts in the region believe these troops could be poised to intervene in Bolivia to suppress leftist movements and secure the country’s gas reserves. (5)
Estigarribia Base, Paraguay
Under U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s direction, the Pentagon has pushed for a number of small Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) based around Latin America.
These military installations permit leapfrogging from one location to another across the continent. Such a strategy reflects an increased dependence on missiles and unmanned aircraft instead of soldiers. CSLs offer the opportunity for a small but potent presence in a country.
Such outposts exist at Eloy Alfaro International Airport in Manta, Ecuador, Reina Beatrix International Airport in Aruba, Hato International Airport in nearby Curacao and at the international airport in Comalapa, El Salvador.
Paraguay may already be home to the region’s next CSL. (6)
The U.S. Embassy in Paraguay contends that no plans for a military outpost are underway and that the military operations are based on humanitarian efforts. However, State Department reports do not mention any funding for humanitarian works in Paraguay. They do mention that funding for the Counterterrorism Fellowship Program in the country doubled in 2005. (7)
U.S. officials say the triple border area, where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil meet, is a base for Islamic terrorist networks.
Analysts in Latin America believe that the U.S. government is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to secure natural resources in the region.
Orlando Castillo, a Paraguayan human rights leader, said the goal of U.S. military operations in his country is to,
While grappling with these challenges, the Morales administration will have to answer to the millions of Bolivians who, in the December election, gave him the biggest mandate in the country’s history.
For centuries Bolivians have, in the words of Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano,
The country’s tin, copper and silver were exploited by foreign companies that made enormous profits while Bolivia struggled on. For many Bolivians, the election of Morales offers the hope that history will stop repeating itself.
As Galeano writes,
SAO PAULO, Brazil
The Paraguayan Congress endorsed the accord four months ago. Influential newspapers in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia generally have denounced the agreement as intrusive Washington politics.
The air base, located in Mariscal Estigarribia, is large enough to handle B-52 bombers and C-5 Galaxy cargo planes, but is being used only as a runway for small planes owned by local farmers.
Skeptics point out that the United States and Ecuador said the same thing about a supposed military base in November 1999, only to sign a 10-year agreement with the U.S. Air Force soon after.
Critics also caution that if terrorists are in the Triple Frontier, the presence of a U.S. base in Mariscal could attract violence.
Of the 13 military exercises at the base in Mariscal, only two involved medical training.
Luiz Moniz Bandeira, a Brazilian-U.S. foreign affairs analyst who has written several books on Washington-Brasilia military relations, said he doubts leftist rhetoric that the Bush administration would try to destabilize South America using the war on terrorism as a fig leaf and Paraguay as its base station.
Defense analyst Fernando Sampaio counters:
Red flags raised
Mr. Rumsfeld traveled to Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital, in mid-August.
In the story, he defined the region as,
Mr. Goldberg said Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda were training in the area and perhaps financing terrorism.
The IMF did say, however, that Brazil needs to “quickly implement” more comprehensive counterterrorist financing measures.
Legislation in the works aims to keep Brazil in line with U.N. Security Council counterterrorism norms established after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
The article said some of the money is hidden in Brazilian banks.
The last Arab terrorist attack in South America occurred at the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1994.
Over the same period, those five countries experienced less than 8 percent of total terrorist activity in Latin America.
Brazil would see such an official American base as a threat, which may be why this is all being done under the guise of Bush family private ownership.
If that theory is correct, then there ought to be an interesting money trail. The Bushes would not use their own funds to create a United States air base.
The whole package is part of a controversial military agreement between Paraguay and the United States endorsed by the Paraguayan Congress more than a year ago. The U.S. Special Forces are guaranteed total immunity and diplomatic status. They are free to import and export, they don’t pay any taxes, and what they trade is not subjected to any inspections.
Contraband kingpins at the Triple Border would kill for a deal like that.
What happened in Colombia is also evoked. The Colombian agreement with the United States stipulated visa-free entry for U.S. civilians. But these “civilians” happen to be mercenaries, working for private security firms. The same process could happen in Paraguay.
Essential in the Pentagon machinery is the new Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program, which is operated (with no supervision by anyone) out of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict.
August 3, 2006
from AsiaTimesArticle Website
Hezbollah south of the border
CIUDAD DEL ESTE
at the triple border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay
This is the way savage globalization ends – at least 20,000 shops, stalls, tin shacks and mini-malls crammed into 15 blocks selling everything under the (tropical) sun.
There’s Little Asia – thousands of Taiwanese, mainland Chinese and Koreans. But above all there are some 20,000 Arabs of Syrian and mostly Lebanese descent (another 12,000 live in the Brazilian resort of Foz do Iguacu, across the Friendship Bridge).
Welcome to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, population 200,000, free-trade cesspit and World Trade Organization wet dream, realm of sacoleiros (bag carriers) crossing the bridge every day and dreaming of the ultimate knockoff, but mostly realm of money changers, prehistoric armored cars, gun-and-coke dealers, dodgy pharmacists and stolen Mercedes with tinted windows.
The border is virtually non-existent, as Paraguay is a Mercosur member (along with Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela). Airspace is free – virtually no radar. Cocaine comes by plane or truck from the Bolivian Andes. Brazilian weapons are everywhere – not to mention real and fake Kalashnikovs. Tons of laundered money whirl in free flow.
The whole thing is a dizzying black void of billions of dollars in contraband, narco-trafficking, weapons smuggling, money laundering, car theft, piracy and corruption of public officials.
And it gets worse: it’s crammed with terrorists.
The head of the U.S. Southcom (Southern Command), the vociferous General Brantz Craddock, is absolutely convinced the Triple Border is the abode of,
The emphasis is on “terrorist” and “Islamic”.
Southcom – U.S.$800 million annual budget, more than the State, Treasury, Commerce and Agriculture departments combined – is the eyes and ears of the Pentagon over Latin America.
In essence, this is how it works. Armchair gurus in Washington and New York theorize on the so-called five wars of globalization – terrorism, trafficking, money laundering, piracy and migration – and the Pentagon sends the Special Forces posing as cleaners to make it all proper for the “free” world. The underlying assumption is that Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda – “in sum, terror” – are profiting like mad from the so-called five wars.
The “new threats of the 21st century recognize no borders”, according to the Pentagon. Ergo, everyone may be a terrorist, at least a potential one. Not accidentally, General Craddock hates “anti-globalization and anti-free-trade demagogues”.
Sunni or Shi’ite, Marxist or anarchist, ruralist or existentialist, the Russian mafia, the Hong Kong triads, the Nigerian mafia, the Ukrainian mafia – they are all in cahoots. And for the Pentagon, Hezbollah is selling pirate video discs of Christina Aguilera to finance more Katyusha rockets.
At the real Triple Border, though, everyone may be a spy, or a would-be spy, because everyone is there:
A rule of gold in the underworld is that Brazil is neutral territory and not subject to turf wars:
There’s no chance of catching one of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s lieutenants slipping $100 bills into the G-string of dancer Harlem Roux at the Casino Parana. He – and his al-Qaeda affiliation – would be spotted in minutes.
General Craddock grudgingly had to admit that the Pentagon has “not detected Islamic terrorist cells” at the Triple Border, nor anywhere else in South America, for that matter. But he’ll keep trying. If he dropped by Ciudad del Este’s mean streets, Craddock would hear a lot of Mandarin – but not Arabic.
He would see every cheap plasma set in every audio-video shop tuned to Lebanese TV – or Al-Jazeera, hardly a terror ID. In his search for preemptive strikes, he could try the Condominio Mesquita – which, as the name attests, is a condo in the shape of a gold-painted mosque (they would love it in Peshawar).
But he would see no Hezbollahs in fake Nikes chewing an empanada and sipping mate with Jet Li lookalikes.
The U.S. government keeps accusing the Brazilian government of regarding Hezbollah as a legitimate political party.
The Treasury Department also said it has detected money transfers from Foz do Iguacu – home of the famous Iguacu (Iguazu in Spanish) Falls, on the Brazilian side – to “terrorist groups” including Hezbollah.
In a report on drugs released in March, the U.S. once again was explicit:
It doesn’t matter that the State Department has found no evidence of “terrorist financing” from Paraguay and was forced to admit that between 1961 and 2003, only 1.2% of worldwide terror took place in,
An International Monetary Fund report on money laundering also revealed the obvious: the Triple Border is awash in cash smuggling, but no sight of “terrorist financing”.
In 2001 CNN dubbed the Triple Border “a terrorist paradise” – based on dodgy documents obtained by U.S. embassies in both Paraguay and Argentina. An article in The New Yorker in late 2002 defined the Triple Border as “the center of Middle Eastern terrorism in South America” and “a community under the influence of extreme Islamic beliefs” – with Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda all training on the spot.
Between late 2001 and early 2002, this whole thing was fine-combed by U.S. and Brazilian investigators.
There was no chance Sheikh Nasrallah would be uncovered operating an electronic casino in Ciudad del Este under an alias. Commercial and banking ties between the Arabs in the Triple Border and their relatives in the Middle East were perfectly legal – just like the ones between resident Arabs in the U.S. and their relatives.
But the heat was on – relentless, humiliating, brutal.
Thus U.S. Immigration and Customs agents, financed to the tune of $2.25 million, will soon be parachuting into the Triple Border to help the locals fight money laundering, contraband and terrorism financing. The Americans will establish “units of commercial transparency”.
Up to now the only country in the world boasting a “unit of commercial transparency” was Colombia. The Brazilian Federal Police and the Ministry of Foreign Relations prefer not to comment. American diplomats insist a permanent group representing the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay has agreed on the matter.
Common wisdom rules that at least $20 million annually is sent from the Triple Border to finance Hezbollah, linking South American banks to banks in Texas and New York in the U.S., plus banks in Panama, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Egypt and Lebanon.
That would be 20% of total worldwide financing for Hezbollah’s military wing.
There’s no independent confirmation.
Hezbollah receives donations from sympathizers worldwide. There’s no evidence it is being financed by pirate video discs or cocaine dollars from the Triple Border.
But the pressure is non-stop. Thus the U.S. Congress has approved a motion enabling President George W Bush to ask for a task force to act against “terrorism in the Western Hemisphere”, especially on the Triple Border. Bush is also supposed to demand from Brazil and other Latin American countries the branding of both Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.
The Brazilian Embassy in Washington was furious – reminding the Americans that even the White House admits there’s no terror operating on the Triple Border.
Carlos Alvarez, head of the Commission of Permanent Representatives of Mercosur, worries that the Americans,
Diplomats from Mercosur countries say they have enough of an institutional base to fight crime – as that is the real issue.
Brazil has set up a new police unit and has reinforced air and fluvial patrols at the Triple Border – fighting above all the trafficking of drugs and weapons. Starting in two weeks – to the dismay of the business community in Ciudad del Este – they will even start inspecting all the sacoleiros crossing the Friendship Bridge.
Arab businessmen in both Foz do Iguacu and Ciudad del Este dismiss U.S. paranoia as, well, paranoia. They have more tangible things to worry about – like two Lebanese businessmen robbed of $250,000 cash in downtown Ciudad del Este just as they had left a bank.
The robbers – carrying machine-guns – were disguised as Paraguayan investigative police.
The Sunday headline in the Paraguayan daily Ultima Hora also told another popular story:
It referred to a Lebanese-Paraguayan family who managed to leave Lebanon in a Brazilian rescue plane, arrived in Sao Paulo but then could find no flights home.
No one wants to fly to Paraguay: airspace is totally unprotected, with no security systems and no radar.
The locals claim they don’t need Americans to arrest one of the top Brazilian narco-traffickers, Marcelinho Niteroi, as they did last week. Niteroi carried fake Paraguayan identification, which he obtained posing as a “farmer”.
On the other hand, businessmen on both sides of the border focus on made-in-USA missiles used by Israel that killed Lebanese-Brazilian kids, who were born in Brazil.
Take what happened last year when the Foz do Iguacu municipality ran a full-page ad in leading newspapers with a photo of Osama bin Laden.
The caption read:
Craddock might have taken it literally – and blown the place apart.
Craddock would have had a heart attack with the recent subversion calendar. Last month the Mercosur chiefs of state got together in Cordoba, Argentina – officially welcoming Venezuela as a new member.
Fidel Castro stole the show. Venezuela’s news network Telesur – very popular via satellite in Ciudad del Este – provided extensive coverage of “anti-imperialist” speeches by both Castro and Hugo Chavez.
Meanwhile civil society – in the form of social, political, cultural, environmental, student, religious and human-rights organizations – was engaged in the second Triple Border Social Forum in Ciudad del Este, discussing the region’s security, a controversial military agreement between the U.S. and Paraguay, and the preservation of the Guarani Aquifer.
The slogan went straight to the point:
The “Yankee troops” are holding “training exercises” in Paraguay (more on that in below Part 2 of this report).
And the World Bank is developing a program toward mapping the Guarani Aquifer – which is the first step toward commercial exploration of its precious waters. The Guarani Aquifer is arguably the biggest reservoir of fresh, potable water in the world – right under Triple Border soil. The majority (71%) of its 1.2 million square kilometers lies in Brazil.
According to the United Nations, by 2025 worldwide demand for potable water will be 56% higher than what will be on offer.
When you combine a huge Arab community and lots of non-commercialized water in a Pentagon-defined “lawless area”, no wonder bells start ringing.
Watching the non-stop coverage on the Arabic channels of Lebanese civilians dying under Israeli bombs, a Lebanese-Brazilian businessman offered the preferred local version of the “war on terror”:
The Yankees are coming
by Pepe Escobar
Wait; in fact they’re already here.
And not only because of the American University, or the rows and rows of private clinics, medical services, pharmacies and life-insurance companies catering to expat customers in Mariscal Lopez Avenue. President Nicanor Duarte has been allowing U.S. troops on Paraguayan soil since mid-2005.
U.S. Special Forces are performing 13 military exercises, to expire late this year, including “educational courses”, “domestic peacekeeping operations” and counter-terrorism training, this one part of Operation Commando Force 6, scheduled to go on until next month.
The whole package is part of a controversial military agreement between Paraguay and the United States endorsed by the Paraguayan Congress more than a year ago. The U.S. Special Forces are guaranteed total immunity and diplomatic status. They are free to import and export, they don’t pay any taxes, and what they trade is not subjected to any inspections. Contraband kingpins at the Triple Border would kill for a deal like that.
The Foreign Ministry for its part insists that,
The Paraguayan government defines these rumors as “delirious”. Brazilians are not so sure.
According to Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim,
Brazilian diplomats worry that Paraguay didn’t even bother to tell its Mercosur counterparts it would be hosting U.S. troops.
Paraguayan businessmen even want to scrap Mercosur altogether, complaining that the big members, Brazil and Argentina, monopolize all the decisions.
No wonder that as early as 2002 a study by the Brazilian army was asking whether,
Although the Paraguayans insist these troops are in the country on a “temporary” basis, they may represent a giant step toward Washington’s setting up a U.S. military base very close to the Triple Border.
Way back in 1982, the U.S. built and started operating a semi-clandestine airstrip in Mariscal Estigarribia, in the Chaco region in northern Paraguay near the Bolivian border, where B-52 bombers and C-5 Galaxy cargo planes are able to land with no hassle. The airstrip is literally in the middle of dense forest. It also happens to be only 270 kilometers from the Brazilian border.
Some Brazilian diplomats bet off the record that a U.S. permanent base is all but inevitable. But maybe not, as Brazil is known to play hardball with Paraguay.
Significantly, the U.S.-Paraguay military agreement happened right when President Duarte was struggling against social movements contrary to his privatization wave, and peasant movements fighting for more land.
The “training” provided by the U.S. forces is the usual mix of combat and counter-insurgency and counter-terror theory. After that, it could be adapted for use against any “terrorist” threat.
For Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the Bush administration’s real target is to smash popular movements and governments in South America.
Duarte is described by economic analyst Pablo Herken as,
The supreme Pentagon obsession remains the Triple Border and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay – the Wild West of the “war on terror”.
Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela have been very critical toward Washington’s regional geostrategic designs. So for the Bush administration a weak and corrupt Paraguayan government is the perfect Trojan horse.
Duarte is a certified FOB (Friend of Bush). He was personally received at the White House. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Asuncion one year ago. Paraguayan Vice President Luis Castiglioni met his U.S. counterpart Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld and crucially Roger Noriega, the sinister former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.
John Keane, U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, publicized a huge contribution to fight “drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and corruption”.
The Triple Border has always been the top issue on all meetings between these players, not to mention the ministerial meetings sponsored by Southcom (the U.S. Southern Command).
The lethal cocktail of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Noriega, the Triple Border and all those thousands of “Ay-rabs” in Ciudad del Este could not but spell endless trouble. Argentine non-governmental organizations also identify the Triple Border as the Americans’ No 1 geostrategic target.
The master plan would be typical Rumsfeld: light, “rapid reaction” forces based in Paraguay intervening in neighboring countries and conducting low-intensity warfare against the – non-existent – Triple Border “terrorists”.
The Pentagon’s agenda is the militarization of the so-called Western Hemisphere. In his South American trips the Rumsfeld mantra has been “dominion over ungoverned spaces”.
So Pentagon logic equally applies to the Triple Border and the Rio favelas run by drug mafias.
But now that Brazil is actually facing U.S. troops on two flanks – north, in Colombia, and south, in Paraguay – no wonder Brazilian congress members have started to regard it as “a threat to our national security”.
Public intellectuals in both Brazil and Argentina fear that the usual U.S.-paid mules will keep planting stories in the media about Arab “terrorists” at the Triple Border, thus justifying a permanent-resident visa for the U.S. forces in Paraguay. What happened in Colombia is also evoked.
The Colombian agreement with the United States stipulated visa-free entry for U.S. civilians. But these “civilians” happen to be mercenaries, working for private security firms. The same process could happen in Paraguay.
Essential in the Pentagon machinery is the new Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program, which is operated (with no supervision by anyone) out of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. What this represents in fact is nothing but a rerun of the infamous Operation Condor coordinated by infamous Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during the 1970s.
As much as Condor, the Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program may work as the de facto Central Command in a South America-wide campaign of intimidation and political terror.
In the 1970s – with sinister dictator Alfredo Stroessner in full power – the Central Intelligence Agency set up in the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion the most powerful electronic spying station in South America.
According to researcher Anibal Miranda, it’s still operational.
For the past five years the U.S. has also set up a real sanitary cordon in South America, from the Caribbean to the Paraguayan Chaco – 20 garrisons split between air and radar bases, at the cost of roughly U.S.$340 million. Spy planes roam the Amazon, the Andes and the Antilles.
Operating under the “war on drugs” banner, three airstrips are crucial in this plan:
The first two happen to be right in front of Venezuela’s coast.
After September 11 the U.S. State Department mantra was that al-Qaeda and/or Hezbollah had an intimate connection with FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia).
The “coincidence” could not be more extraordinary:
Before September 11 the main rationale behind Washington’s Plan Colombia was the “war on drugs”.
Then it became the “war on terror” – and Plan Colombia spread way beyond the Andes.
The Pentagon’s new Long War (war on terror remixed) is now the catalyst that multiplies “evidence” forever justifying sending special agents, U.S. Special Forces, “training” of local forces, “joint military operations” and, sooner rather than later, a permanent military base.
There are also the huge gas reserves of Bolivia, and great unexplored reserves of carbon in southern Brazil, not to mention Venezuelan oil. It all comes back once again to the 21st-century energy wars.
Anyone familiar with South America knows that the key issue is not terrorism but lack of investment in health and education, and hunger and unemployment inevitably leading in despair to petty crime and beyond. But for the Pentagon shock troops of hardcore globalization, the only thing that matters is an ideological crusade.
General Brantz Craddock, the man who sees a terrorist behind any pirate video disc sold in the Triple Border, recently said that “transnational terrorism” is Latin America’s “foremost” problem.
Pentagon managed to fabricate a hardcore Islamic jihad in Iraq out of nothing.
There’s no reason to doubt it may fabricate a South America-wide Ciudad del Este out of a single Triple Border.
from WorkersWorld Website
From the U.S./Mexican border to many parts farther south, U.S. imperialism is setting up more and more military bases throughout the region and stealthily sending ever more U.S. troops and mercenaries to Latin America.
Under the guise of fighting the so-called drug war or seeking “Al Qaeda terrorist cells,” Washington’s real intention is to prepare to overcome the rising movements against U.S. imperialism that are sweeping the region.
Washington’s intense escalation of military force is extremely dangerous for the oppressed people of the Americas and should be energetically fought by the anti-war movement in the United States.
As Conn Hallinan wrote last November in Foreign Policy in Focus,
This action takes place within the context of a growing number of U.S. military bases built in the region in the last several years, and within the context of Plan Colombia, a $3-billion-plus military initiative for Colombia, was passed under the Clinton Administration.
Plan Colombia is the military wing of the stalled Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).
What cannot be wrested from the people of Latin America by its operators in three-piece suits, Washington clearly aims to steal through its agents in military fatigues.
There are approximately 25 known U.S. military bases or land-based radar stations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
These include military bases in,
In January 2006, Cuban Radio Havana revealed that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had authorized the expansion of U.S. military bases in
These expanded military bases were called CSL’s – Cooperative Security Locations – and set up at the Mariscal Estigarribia airbase in Paraguay and elsewhere.
According to Radio Havana, these bases, while staffed by a relatively small number of troops,
Developments in Paraguay are alarming progressives across that country’s borders in Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, where Indigenous peasant leader Evo Morales recently took office as president.
According to an article in the January Political Affairs, the Bush administration in December 2004 canceled $330 million in aid to several South American countries because they had refused to grant U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution for crimes committed in those countries.
Paraguay did sign the immunity agreement in a secret session of its congress on May 26, 2005, authorizing an 18-month stay for U.S. soldiers, which can be extended repeatedly.
The U.S. troops that arrived in Paraguay last July 1 are only 120 miles from Bolivia at a base near Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay.
The base has a runway long enough to accommodate large military transport planes such as B-52 bombers and Galaxy C-5 cargo planes. It also has barracks space for 16,000 troops, a huge radar system and vast hangers.
Prominent Paraguayan journalist and human rights activist Alfredo Boccia Paz stated recently that,
Furthermore, last July a high-powered meeting of Bush administration officials met with Paraguay’s vice president.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Noriega met with Paraguay Vice President Luis Castiglioni and concluded that,
The FBI also announced that in 2006 it would open an office in Paraguay.
The U.S. troops stationed in Paraguay are already up to no good. The Southern Command, according to several sources including Radio Havana, announced an upcoming “saber rattling” military exercise to take place in Paraguay called “Fuerzas Comando 06 (Operation Commando Force 06).”
Stan Goff, a former sergeant in the U.S. Special Forces, often points out in his denunciations of U.S. intervention that it can be misleading to judge the impact of a U.S. intervention only by the number of U.S. troops involved. If these troops are Special Forces, for example, they can train local mercenaries or pave the way for thousands of ground troops.
Bush administration officials deny that Mariscal Estigarribia will become or is a U.S. military base.
The base is located 20 minutes from war-torn Colombia’s borders. Those in Colombia who resist neocolonial domination there consider the base opening an act of war. Many U.S. Congress members also opposed Manta and tried to block the Manta project.
The first thing the base in Manta housed was E-3 AWACS surveillance planes.
According to the Washington Post (Jan. 25, 2001), with the troops and the planes,
The U.S. pays no rent at Manta. It signed the deal with a former Ecuadorian president, Jamil Mahuad, who fled to exile in the U.S. and was under indictment for abuse of power.
One year before Ecuador opened the Manta base it adopted the U.S. dollar as the national currency.
In the case of both Manta, Ecuador, in 2001 and Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay now, government officials called the bases “Forward Operating Locations” or “Cooperative Security Locations” to avoid calling them bases.
Washington has mislabeled the militarization of Latin America as part of the fight against drugs, just as some of the media have mislabeled the Minutemen militarizing the U.S.-Mexican border as freedom fighters.
In reality, the strengthening of military bases and the sending of U.S. troops is aimed to subvert the rising revolutionary movements in Latin America. It is aimed against Presidents Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia and at Fidel Castro in Cuba.
But the tide for an end to colonial and imperialist domination has turned in favor of the oppressed and no military base can turn it back.
U.S. Military Base, Paraguay
The Estigarribia airbase was constructed in the 1980s for U.S. technicians hired by the Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, and is capable of housing large troops units.
The base has an enormous radar system, huge hangars and an air traffic control tower. The airstrip itself is larger than the one at the international airport in Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital.
It’s oversized for the Paraguayan air force, which only has a handful of small aircrafts. Pope John Paul II (Vatican Control) was there in May 1988 when he visited the town of Santa Teresita, 3 kilometers away.
On July 1, 2005, the United States reportedly deployed troops and aircraft to the large military airfield of Mariscal Estigarribia as part of a bid to extend control of strategic interests in the Latin American sphere, particularly in Bolivia.
A military training agreement with Asunción, giving immunity to U.S. soldiers, caused some concern after media reports initially reported that a base housing 20,000 U.S. soldiers was being built at Mariscal Estigarribia within 200 km of Argentina and Bolivia, and 300 km of Brazil, near an airport which could receive large planes (B-52, C-130 Hercules, etc.) which the Paraguay Air Forces do not have.
The governments of Paraguay and the United States subsequently declared that the use of an airport (Dr Luís María Argaña International) was one point of transfer for few soldiers in Paraguay at the same time.
According to the Clarín Argentinean newspaper, the U.S. military base is strategic because of its location near the Triple Frontera between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina; its proximity towards the Guarani aquifer; and, finally, its closeness toward Bolivia (less than 200 km) at the same,
Paraguay Revokes U.S. Military Immunity
05 October 2006
On October 2, the Paraguayan government announced its decision to revoke U.S. immunity as soon as their current contract expires in December 2006.
The U.S. military has carried out military exercises in Paraguay since July 2005. Since then the troops have enjoyed technical and administrative immunity, exempting them from trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said that the U.S. will not continue to provide military support without immunity for its soldiers. However, on October 3, 2006 President Bush signed a waiver allowing for military aid in countries that have refused to sign immunity agreements with the U.S. military. The waiver affects 21 countries, including Paraguay.
Historically, Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos and President George W. Bush have enjoyed what Brazilian President Lula calls a “political matrimony.” (quote from Ultimahora)
Paraguay’s decision represents a political alliance with the countries in the MercoSur trade block, which includes Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela.
Orlando Castillo, director of SERPAJ, a human rights organization based in Paraguay, stated that Frutos’ decision does not necessarily represent an ideological shift of Paraguay’s center-right government. Castillo explained that regional solidarity would require major reforms in all sectors of the Paraguayan government.
Furthermore, military representatives from the CIA, DEA, and FBI will continue to hold immunity in Paraguay.
I eventually arrived in Ciudad del Este, known for its black markets and loose borders. Now the city and farmers I met are caught in the crossfire of the U.S. military’s “war on terror.”
On May 26, 2005, the Paraguayan Senate allowed U.S. troops to train their Paraguayan counterparts until December 2006, when the Paraguayan Senate can vote to extend the troops’ stay.
The United States had threatened to cut off millions in aid to the country if Paraguay did not grant the troops entry. In July 2005 hundreds of U.S. soldiers arrived with planes, weapons and ammunition. Washington’s funding for counterterrorism efforts in Paraguay soon doubled, and protests against the military presence hit the streets.
Some activists, military analysts and politicians in the region believe the operations could be part of a plan to overthrow the left-leaning government of Evo Morales in neighboring Bolivia and take control of the area’s vast gas and water reserves.
Human rights reports from Paraguay suggest the U.S. military presence is, at the very least, heightening tensions in the country.
As this industry has expanded, an estimated 90,000 poor families have been forced off their land. Campesinos have organized protests, road blockades and land occupations against displacement and have faced subsequent repression from military and paramilitary forces.
According to Grupo de Reflexion Rural (GRR), an Argentina-based organization that documents violence against farmers, on June 24, 2005, in Tekojoja, Paraguay, hired policemen and soy producers kicked 270 people off their land, burned down fifty-four homes, arrested 130 people and killed two.
The most recent case of this violence is the death of Serapio Villasboa Cabrera, a member of the Paraguayan Campesino Movement, whose body was found full of knife wounds May 8.
Cabrera was the brother of Petrona Villasboa, who was spearheading an investigation into the death of her son, who died from exposure to toxic chemicals used by transgenic soy producers. According to Servicio, Paz y Justicia (Serpaj), an international human rights group that has a chapter in Paraguay, one method used to force farmers off their land is to spray toxic pesticides around communities until sickness forces residents to leave.
GRR said Cabrera was killed by paramilitaries connected to large landowners and soy producers, who are expanding their holdings. The paramilitaries pursue farm leaders who are organizing against the occupation of their land. Investigations by Serpaj demonstrate that the worst cases of repression against farmers have taken place in areas with the highest concentration of U.S. troops.
Serpaj reported that in the department of San Pedro, where five U.S. military exercises took place, there have been eighteen farmer deaths from repression, in an area with many farmer organizations. In the department of Concepción there have been eleven deaths and three U.S. military exercises.
Near the Triple Border, where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet, there were twelve deaths and three exercises.
Tomas Palau, a Paraguayan sociologist at BASE-IS, a Paraguayan social research institute, and the editor of a recent book on the militarization of Latin America, said,
Like Castillo, Palau said there is an association between the U.S. military presence and the increased violence against campesinos.
He said it’s common knowledge that the U.S. troops and the Paraguayan troops are conducting operations together.
The U.S. Embassy in Asunción rejects all claims that the U.S. military is linked to the increased repression against campesino and protest groups, either through exercises or instruction.
In an e-mail response to the charges, Bruce Kleiner of the Embassy’s Office of Public Affairs writes that,
However, the deputy speaker of the Paraguayan parliament, Alejandro Velazquez Ugarte, said that of the thirteen exercises going on in the country, only two are of a civilian nature.
According to BASE-IS, Paraguayan officials have recently used the threat of terrorism to justify their aggression against campesino leaders. One group, the Campesino Organization of the North, has been accused of receiving instructions from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), that country’s largest leftist guerrilla movement.
The FARC has also been accused of colluding in the kidnapping and murder of the daughter of former Paraguayan President Raúl Cubas Grau last year.
A June 23 report from the Chinese news service Xinhua said that Colombia’s defense minister, Camilo Ospina, spoke with Paraguay’s attorney general, Ruben Candia, about the presence of the FARC in Paraguay. Ospina said the FARC was consulting organized crime groups and “giving criminals advice on explosives” in Paraguay.
Regarding the FARC connection in Paraguay, Paul Wolf, an international attorney in Washington who has studied the group closely and written about it, said,
Linking Paraguayan campesino groups to the FARC is nothing new, particularly since the death of Cubas’s daughter.
However, in an interview with the Paraguayan newspaper La Nación, the bishop of Concepción, Zacarias Ortiz Rolon, said,
The Association of Farmers of Alto Paraná (ASAGRAPA), a campesino group near the Triple Border, reported that a local politician offered one of the organization’s leaders a sum of money equivalent to a monthly salary, in return for which the ASAGRAPA member was told to announce that other leaders in the organization were building a terrorist group and receiving training from the FARC.
BASE-IS reports suggest that this type of bribery and disinformation is part of an effort to guarantee the “national security of the U.S.” and “justify, continue and expand the North American military presence.”
Last October the Cuban media outlet Prensa Latina reported that FBI director Robert Mueller arrived in Paraguay to,
Journalist Hugo Olázar of the Argentine paper Clarín reported last September that U.S. troops were operating from an air base in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay.
He visited the base last year and said it had an air-traffic control tower, a military encampment and was capable of handling large aircraft. Though the United States denies it is operating at the base, it used the same rhetoric when first discussing its actions in Manta, Ecuador, which is currently home to an $80 million U.S. military base.
The base there was first described in 1999 as an archaic “dirt strip” used only for weather monitoring. Days later, the Pentagon said it would be utilized for security-related missions.
Other indications that the U.S. military might be settling into Paraguay come from the right-wing Paraguayan government. Current President Nicanor Duarte Frutos is a member of the Colorado party, which has ruled the country for more than fifty years. It was this party that established the thirty-five-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner.
Soon after his election in 2003, Duarte became the first Paraguayan president to be received at the White House. Last August Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld flew to Paraguay. Shortly afterward, Dick Cheney met with Paraguay’s vice president.
Last year, Argentine Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel commented on the situation in Paraguay,
Counterfeit Rolling Papers and Viagra
Washington has justified its military presence in Paraguay by stating that the Triple Border area at Ciudad del Este is a base for Islamist terrorist funding.
In a June 3, 2006, Associated Press report, Western intelligence officials, speaking anonymously, claimed that if Iran is cornered by the United States, it could direct the international network of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to assist in terrorist attacks.
The Justice Department has indicted nineteen people this year for sending the profits from the sale of counterfeit rolling papers and Viagra to Hezbollah.
Other claims about terrorist networks said to be operating in the Triple Border region include a poster of Iguaçu Falls, a tourist destination near Ciudad del Este, discovered by U.S. troops on the wall of an Al Qaeda operative’s home in Kabul, Afghanistan, shortly after 9/11.
Aside from this, however, the U.S. Southern Command and the State Department report that no “credible information” exists confirming that “Islamic terrorist cells are planning attacks in Latin America.”
Luiz Moniz Bandeira, who holds a chair in history at the University of Brasília and writes about U.S.-Brazilian relations, was quoted in the Washington Times as saying,
Throughout the cold war, the U.S. government used the threat of communism as an excuse for its military adventures in Latin America.
Now, as leaders such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez move further outside the sphere of Washington’s interests, the United States is using another “ism” as an alibi for its military presence.
As Greg Grandin pointed out in his article “The Wide War,” first posted on TomDispatch.com, the Pentagon now has more resources and money directed to Latin America than the Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce and Treasury combined.
Before 9/11 the annual U.S. military aid to the region was around $400 million. It’s now nearly $1 billion. Much of this goes to training troops.
Making wild allegations about Paraguayan farmers being terrorists is one way to justify the increased spending and military presence in the region.
His grand plan for a free trade zone reaching from the Artic Circle to Tierra del Fuego was soundly rejected by nations fed up with the economic and social chaos wrought by neoliberalism. At a press conference, South American journalists asked him rude questions about Karl Rove.
And the President ended the whole debacle by uttering what may be the most trenchant observation the man has ever made on Latin America:
But there is nothing amusing about an Enormous U.S. base less than 120 miles from the Bolivian border, or the explosive growth of U.S.-financed Mercenary Armies that are doing everything from training the military in Paraguay and Ecuador to calling in Air Attacks against Guerillas in Colombia.
Indeed, it is feeling a little like the run up to the ‘60s and ‘70s, when Washington-sponsored military dictatorships dominated most of the continent, and dark armies ruled the night. U.S. Special Forces began arriving this past summer at Paraguay’s Mariscal Estigarribia air base, a sprawling complex built in 1982 during the reign of dictator Alfredo Stroessner.
Argentinean journalists who got a peek at the place say the airfield can handle B-52 bombers and Galaxy C-5 cargo planes. It also has a huge radar system, vast hangers, and can house up to 16,000 troops. The air base is larger than the international airport at the capital city, Asuncion .
Some 500 special forces arrived July 1 for a three-month counter- -terrorism training exercise, code named Operation Commando Force 6. Paraguayan denials that Mariscal Estigarribia is now a U.S. base have met with considerable skepticism by Brazil and Argentina.
There is a disturbing resemblance between U.S. denials about Mariscal Estigarribia, and similar disclaimers made by the Pentagon about Eloy Alfaro airbase in Manta , Ecuador . The United States claimed the Manta base was a “dirt strip” used for weather surveillance. When local journalists revealed its size, however, the United States admitted the base harbored thousands of mercenaries and hundreds of U.S. troops, and Washington had signed a 10-year basing agreement with Ecuador .
The Eloy Alfaro base is used to rotate U.S. troops in and out of Columbia, and to house an immense network of private corporations who do most of the military’s dirty work in Columbia. According to the Miami Herald, U.S. mercenaries armed with M-16s have gotten into fire fights with guerrillas in southern Columbia, and American civilians working for Air Scan International of Florida called in air strikes that killed 19 civilians and wounded 25 others in the town of Santo Domingo.
The base is crawling with U.S. Civilians – many of them retired military – working for Military Professional Resources Inc., Virginia Electronics, DynCorp, Lockheed Martin (the world’s largest arms maker), Northrop Grumman, TRW, and dozens of others.
It was U.S. intelligence agents working out of Manta who fingered Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia leader Ricardo Palmera last year, and several leaders of the U.S.-supported coup against Haitian President Bertram Aristide spent several months there before launching the 2004 coup that exiled Aristide to South Africa.
“Privatizing” war is not only the logical extension of the Bush admin’s. mania for contracting everything out to the private sector; it also shields the White House’s activities from the U.S. Congress.
The role that Manta is playing in the northern part of the continent is what so worries countries in the southern cone about Mariscal Estigarribia.
Life at the Triple Frontier
The Bush administration has made the “Triple Frontier Region” where Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina meet into the South American equivalent of Iraq’s Sunni Triangle.
According to William Pope, U.S. State Department Counterterrorist Coordinator, the United States has evidence that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed spent several months in the area in 1995.
The U.S. military also says it seized documents in Afghanistan with pictures of Paraguay and letters from Arabs living in Cuidad del Este, a city of some 150,000 people in the tri-border region.
The Defense Department has not revealed what the letters contained, and claims that the area is a hotbed of Middle East terrorism have been widely debunked.
The U.S. State Department’s analysis of the region – ”Patterns of Terrorism” – found no evidence for the charge, and an International Monetary Fund (IMF) study found the area awash with money smuggling, but not terrorism. It is the base’s proximity to Bolivia that causes the most concern, particularly given the Bush administration’s charges that Cuba and Venezuela are stirring up trouble in that Andean nation.
Bolivia has seen a series of political upheavals, starting with a revolt against the privatization of water supplies by the U.S. Bechtel Corp. and the French utility giant, Suez de Lyonnaise des Eaux.
The water uprising was sparked off when Suez announced it would charge between $335 and $445 to connect a private home to the water supply.
Bolivia’s yearly per capita gross domestic product is $915. The water revolt, which spread to IMF enforced taxes and the privatization of gas and oil reserves, forced three presidents to resign.
The country is increasingly polarized between its majority Indian population and an elite minority that has dominated the nation for hundreds of years. Six out of 10 people live below the poverty line, a statistic that rises to nine in 10 in rural areas.
A Rumsfeld aide told the press that Cuba was involved in the unrest, a charge that even one of Bolivia’s ousted Pres, Carlos Mesa, denies.
A major focus of the unrest in Bolivia is who controls its vast natural gas deposits, the second largest in the Western Hemisphere.
Under pressure from the United States and the IMF, Bolivia sold off its oil and gas to Enron and Shell in 1995 for $263.5 million, less than 1% of what the deposits are worth. The Movement Toward Socialism’s presidential candidate Evo Morales, a Quechuan Indian and trade union leader who is running first in the polls, wants to renationalize the deposits.
Polls indicate that 75% of Bolivians agree with him.
U.S. General Bantz J. Craddock, commander of Southern Command, told the House Armed Services Committee:
Bolivia has been placed on the National Intelligence Council’s list of 25 countries where the United States will consider intervening in case of “instability.”
Would the United States try to destabilize Bolivia’s economy while training people how to use military force to insure Enron, Shell, British Gas, Total, Repsol, and the United States continues to get Bolivian gas for pennies on the dollar? Quite likely.
And would the White House like to use such a coup as a way to send a message to other countries? You bet. President Bush may be clueless on geography, but he is not bad at overthrowing governments and killing people.
Will it be as easy as it was in the old days when the CIA could bribe truckers to paralyze Chile and set the stage for a coup? Nothing is easy in Latin America anymore.
The United States can bluster about a trade war, but the playing field is a little more level these days. The Mercosur Group of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay embraces 250 million people, generates $1 trillion in goods, and is the third largest trade organization on the planet.
If the American market tightens, the Chinese are more than willing to pick up the slack. A meeting last month of the Ibero-American heads of state turned downright feisty. The assembled nations demanded an end to the “blockade” of Cuba. The word “blockade” is very different than the word “embargo,” the term that was always used in the past.
A “blockade” is a violation of international law.
The meeting also demanded that the United States extradite Luis Posada to Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 76 people.
If the United States tries something in Bolivia (or Venezuela), it will find that the old days when proxy armies and economic destabilization could bring down governments are gone, replaced by countries and people who no longer curtsy to the colossus from the north.
Media Reports That 16,000 U.S. Troop Invade Paraguay
As the story grew, during the first week of July, it evolved into the description of an air strip out in the desert capable of handling B-52s and heavy American transports. Word had it that some 16,000 American troops were moving in. The reason for all this American military activity was reported as U.S. interest in natural gas deposits across the border in Bolivia.
Yeah, that’s the ticket.
A second small group of will arrive on July 24th, to do medical work in eastern Paraguay. A total of 204 American troops will be visiting Paraguay, in groups no larger than 32, between July and December, 2005. These are all training missions of one kind or another.
Wild rumors about nefarious American military operations have always been popular in Latin America, but the strident efforts to paint the liberation of Iraq as another conquest by evil imperialists has got reporters fired up and ready to take any rumor the extra mile.
The top-down expressions of apocalyptic, fundamentalist faith represent a screen theology, to deceive the sincerely devout – for instance, that Bush is a “godly man” who holds power by the “will of God” in these “Last Days” – and to mask the true hearts and intentions of the gangster elite.
At best, they are hypocrites. And if they are worse than that, then they are much worse.
Many of America’s conservative Christians may be surprised to learn their Christian Right isn’t so Christian anymore. Over the past 15 years, it’s been largely bought, borrowed, compromised and blackmailed by Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
And what Moon represents is yet another hub in the fascist/intelligence/criminal nexus of money laundering, drug trafficking and arms dealing we frequently see behind the thinning veil of America.
Limited investigations of Moon’s organization have revealed large sums of money flowing into the United States mostly from untraceable accounts in Japan, where Moon had close ties to yakuza gangster Ryoichi Sasakawa.
Former Moon associates also have revealed major money flows from shadowy sources in South America, where Moon built relationships with right-wing elements associated with the cocaine trade, including the so-called Cocaine Coup government of Bolivia in the early 1980s.
Allegations of Moon’s relationship to the South American drug trade don’t stop with the fall of Klaus Barbie’s neo-fascist narco-state.
Since 1999, Moon has acquired 600,000 hectares of arid land in Paraguay’s northern state of Chaco, bordering Brazil, directly above the world’s largest aquifer.
Senator Domingo Laino claims that Moon intends to control his nation’s narcotics trafficking, as well as the “largest fresh drinking water source in the world.”
If that’s not bad enough, Iran-Contra vet Elliot Abrams – Bush’s new “Deputy National Security Adviser for global democracy strategy” – is also deep in Moon’s pocket.
Abrams spoke at three Moon rallies in 1998, including one in Sao Paolo, Brazil, attacking anti-cult “deprogrammers” and those who hire them to rescue their family members from the Unification Church.
According to Abrams – about whom we’re expected to believe this matters – it’s simply an issue of “religious freedom.”
While Moon is a large, and largely hidden, part of the story of the corruption of religion for criminal and covert ends, the story neither begins nor ends with him. There are many examples on the spooky side of life, that demonstrate that evangelical Christianity has been penetrated and exploited by intelligence assets, and that what may sound like a profession of faith may be nothing more a cover story, and a joke at the expense of the faithfully deceived.
Michael Meiring, the Davao City bomber sheltered by U.S. authorities from Philippine justice, confided to acquaintances in Mindanao that he was CIA, but winked that it stood for “Christ in action.”
Wally Hilliard, the money man behind the two Florida flight schools which trained the 9/11 pilots, is an avowed evangelical who’s former insurance firm in Wisconsin boasted the motto “Hate Sin, Fight Communism, and Back the Pack!”
Forty-three pounds of heroin was found on Wally’s Lear Jet, just three weeks after Mohammed Atta enrolled; the largest seizure ever in Central Florida. His plane had made dozens of round trips to Venezuela with passengers who always paid cash, and that the plane had been supplied to Hilliard by the same drug smugglers who had outfitted CIA drug smuggler Barry Seal’s.
Hilliard and his pilot were not charged. The heroin seizure plays like one of those instances in which the DEA gets its wires crossed with the black ops boys. (Daniel Hopsicker tells more, in his Welcome to Terrorland.)
Interestingly, Hilliard is yet another “devout” figure who has bailed out Jerry Falwell, having loaned, and forgiven, the Reverend one million dollars.
Shortly after, another curious thing happened: Britannia Aviation was awarded a five-year contract to manage a large maintenance facility at the Lynchburg airport. It was chosen over a seasoned local company worth millions, when it had a book value of only $750, virtually no qualifications, employees or history.
Britannia didn’t even have the necessary FAA license to fulfill the contract. What it had, however, was Wally Hilliard’s hanger at the Venice, Florida flight school, and according to a Drug Enforcement Agency source, a “greenlight” to operate by the DEA.
Hopsicker’s research suggests Brittania may have been used as part of the protected black ops drug trade, which was much in evidence in Venice. Indeed, it seems as though there are many interested parties who have bailed out the Reverend Falwell.
Many of the flight trainers who had trained the Arab terrorist pilots had also flown missions out of the Venice and Sarasota Florida Airports for such Christian missionary services as televangelist Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing.
It was “Islamic fundamentalist” Osama bin laden who cloaked his covert activities under the cover of religious charities. Were we now discovering that our own government intelligence agencies used the same ruse?
Christian-linked or not, why did a transparent dummy front company like Paul Marten’s Britannia Aviation have a ‘green light’ from the DEA? A green light for what?
Gerard Colby’s and Charlotte Dennett’s massive work, Thy Will Be Done: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil, painfully details how the missionaries of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), also known as Wycliffe Bible Translators, served as proxy soldiers in the CIA’s Amazonian genocide.
From a review by Carmelo Ruiz:
August 9, 2005
With U.S. troops currently protecting Halliburton’s oil operations in Iraq and the CentGas pipeline in Afghanistan, U.S. troops are now being sent to Paraguay, complete with immunity from criminal prosecution by Paraguay or the International Criminal Court, to protect the millions of acres of Paraguayan water and land resources bought over the years by religious cult leader Sun Myung Moon.
It is not coincidental that Moon’s Unification Church has many followers within the Bush administration.
Last month, 500 U.S. troops arrived in Paraguay to expand the Mariscal Estigarriba air base to handle large U.S. military transport planes. Moon’s land acquisitions in Chaco Province are just north of the huge Guarani aquifer, one of the world’s largest sources of fresh water.
In addition, Moon has acquired large tracts of land on the Brazilian side of the Paraguayan border.
Local villagers in Paraguay and Brazil claim that most of Moon’s land acquisitions were fraudulent and illegal. Moon’s World Unification Church operates in Paraguay under a corporate contrivance called the Victoria Company. Paraguay has also announced that everyone entering and leaving Paraguay will be photographed and fingerprinted.
Not coincidentally, the new border control system is being financed by South Korea.
It is no coincidence that considering the oil-centric Bush administration, the Mariscal Estigarriba air base is close to large Bolivian natural gas reserves in the neighboring Bolivian provinces of Santa Cruz and Tarija.
The U.S. move in Paraguay comes at the same time the U.S. is stepping up its “counter-narcotics” operations from its Manta, Ecuador base and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is accusing the United States of using Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) personnel in Latin America as espionage agents trying to destabilize his government.
In addition, the Paraguayan military operations are seen as a Bush administration attempt to intimidate neighboring Bolivia, where MAS Socialist party and coca farmer (cocalero) leader Evo Morales is poised to become the next President in scheduled December elections after years of popular demonstrations which saw Bolivian workers and peasants deposing a series of pro-U.S. presidents.
A Morales government would add another anti-U.S. and free trade government in South America, joining Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
So soon, the mothers and fathers of U.S. military personnel will be able to take comfort in sacrificing the lives of their sons and daughters for a self-proclaimed Messiah, a non-English speaking Korean who claims to have saved the souls of Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Stalin, and Hitler and communicates regularly with others in his departed flock of adherents, including all the deceased Presidents of the United States (who, Moon claims, appointed Richard Nixon as their spokesman from the “hereafter”).
Moon’s land sits atop the Guarani Aquifer, the Earth’s largest resource of fresh drinking water, and also happens to be an “enormously strategic point in both the narcotics and arms trades,” according to Paraguay’s drug czar from 1976-89.
Now, apparently, the Reverend is again keeping familiar company:
The original Oct 11 story from Paraguay, in Spanish, can be found here.
There’s a second story from Prensa Latina that identifies the purchaser as George W rather than George HW Bush, but the Chaco purchase strikes me as more likely an initiative of the father than of the son.
Bush Sr, let’s remember, tootled around Latin America in 1996 as Moon’s lapdog and praised him in Buenos Aires as “the man with the vision.” (Moon’s foresight might have included blackmail, specifically the office of the then Vice President with the Craig Spence call boy scandal. Influence, by any means necessary.)
Still, keeping Moon’s company is a Bush family enterprise, as Neil accompanied the Reverend last year on his 100-day “global peace campaign.” Paraguay, of course, has been a recent source of alarm to the region for its allowance of its tri-border territory to become a U.S. military beachhead.
Now, with the reports of the Bush purchase of an “ecological reserve” alongside Moon’s, we have good reason to suspect that U.S. national security has again been seconded to the Bush family business.
Wayne Madsen Reports: