A New U.S. Base in Chile
By Joaquín Rivery Tur
It is extremely hard to believe the official version that could have some mission related to peace in this country, in constant agitation due to social protests against the neoliberal measures of the government of President Sebastián Piñera.
Coming after the loss of a military presence in Venezuela and the closure of its Manta airbase in Ecuador, within a Latin America steadily more politically homogenous, of more independent peoples with constitutional governments, the United States’ construction of a base in Chile has a negative impact; far more given that its financing, amounting to $500,000, came from the repudiated Southern Command of the U.S. Army.
The U.S. was in a hurry, because the facility, for training soldiers specializing in city operations, was completed in record time in Concón, Valparaiso. The works, estimated to take six months, were undertaken in 60 days.
Chilean civil society has denounced what it considers the real objective of the supposed military college: a center for training future repressors and torturers. The first protest has already taken place, organized by a group of social movements: the Valparaiso Relatives of Executed Politicians, Talca municipality, Observers for the Closure of the School of the Americas, the Martin Luther King Ecumenical Community, and the Valparaiso Human Rights Committee.
The scandal came to light in a document sent to these groups, which criticizes President Piñera’s government for having authorized the Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) base in Concón, where the repressive troops of the continent will supposedly be trained to execute operations for maintaining the peace or civil stability, as the U.S. embassy in Santiago de Chile states.
The condemning organizations emphasize that this military base “violates our sovereignty by allowing the military forces of another nation to operate in our territory.”
Chilean anger likewise extends to the armed forces’ possible intervention in social conflicts, reviving the celebrated doctrine of national security, with its belief in an enemy within which these armed forces must combat.
According to the U.S. official version, the facility is for the training of “UN peacekeeping forces,” but coincidentally, its construction is part of the U.S. Southern Command, in an attempt to recover its lost influence south of the Rio Bravo.
During U.S. Defense Secretary and former CIA director León Panetta’s visit to Chile, Alicia Lira, president of the Valparaiso Relatives of Executed Politicians group, affirmed,
“We will not allow this fort to be converted into the first attempt on the part of the United States to install military bases in our country, as it has done in Honduras, Colombia and other nations in the region, even if they come with a United Nations cover.”
The media reported that during operational maneuvers in Concón, carabineros (Chilean military police)
“mixed their known attire with military uniforms, according to photographs published on the Southern Command website and video footage appeared where members of the Investigations Police (essentially dedicated to intelligence) can be seen participating in the training session, another aspect rejected by the Chilean population.”
A blogger commented that the principal problem he sees
“is that they are giving military training to the police so that they can confront citizens. Thus, in the future, it won’t be necessary to get the military onto the streets, because they are already going to be patrolling, disguised as carabineros.”
Colombian Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo noted that U.S. government records concerning the Málaga, Larandia and Tolemaida bases in his country, state that they are making investments of a distinct type: 126 contracts to a value of approximately $12-13 million.
In a document titled Colombia-U.S. Military Relations, the Colombian Congress member writes that
“sovereignty over these bases has been lost, because they are part of the U.S. strategy for the control of the Americas and the world.”
Returning to Fort Aguayo, this is not the first time that it has been used to extend U.S. interests in Chile. In 2003, the base housing the 2nd Marine Detachment, described as the best trained in the Chilean Navy, was used to recruit aspirants for private security detachments run by the U.S. Blackwater company in Iraq.
Fort Aguayo trains soldiers from various Latin American countries and is to be used for five sessions during 2012.
The center’s Chilean director, Ship Captain Claudio Zanetti boasted,
“We all know the realities of South America and Chile has always had good relations with the United States, and they know that an investment here will be to the benefit of what they are looking for.”
This is the essence of the issue, Chilean forces with a fascist ideology are facilitating the training of future repressors and torturers. In any event, the U.S. MOUT base is already a reality and will bring no good to Chile and Our America.
Editorial note. The Chilean government has released a communique informing the public that the function of the new base is “in accordance with government provisions related to international cooperation… [and also] complies with a United Nations program.”
On the other hand, a U.S. Embassy press release notes that: “The training center, which resembles an urban area with 8 types of buildings, was built thanks to a contribution of almost USD $500,000 from the Southern Command of the U.S. Armed Forces. This is the first project of its type to be implemented in Chile to support the training of staff in charge of maintaining the peace and civil stability.”
The intended use for training of a repressive force in urban warfare against Chileans and other people of the world is not exactly subtle now, is it? Dady Chery
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