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In the name of liberty…

7 July 2010

The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.

(Simón Bolívar)

Peter Krupa (Lat/Am Daily) on the latest intervention cum “humanitarian gesture”:

Militaryless, democratic, non-conflict-having Costa Rica is the new front in the United States’ War on Inanimate Objects. The country’s  national assembly has given the OK for a veritable US invasion force to enter Costa Rican territory: 7,000 marines on 46 warships, including the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship…

La Nación quotes a document from the US Embassy that states that, “The US personnel in Costa Rica will be able to enjoy freedom of movement and the right to carry out the activities that they consider necessary to complete their mission.”

Well isn’t that just permissively vague.

The legislation says the mission has to do with fighting drug traffickers, as well as a few humanitarian goals, though the humanitarian use of a Harrier jet is still somewhat unclear.

The population of Costa Rica is only about 4.6 million people… which works out to one warship for every 100,000 Ticos (actually about 90,000, since 10 percent of residents are foreign nationals).  They aren’t known for violence, and it’s a relatively stable, middle-class country that hasn’t had any huge disasters requiring foreign “humanitarian assistance” any time in the recent past.  Drug trafficking, mostly pass-though from U.S. client state (and #1 cocaine supplier) Colombia, is a growing problem, but one that doesn’t seem to call for sending in the Marines.

Of course, the Costa Rican government has the invite whomever they want into their country, but 46 warships and seven thousand Marines in a very small country in proximity to several other nations that have, over the years, had their disagreements with (and invasions by) the United States is of concern to those neighbors.

What I”d be more worried about that “right to carry out the activities they consider necessary” bit, myself.  There’s suspicion here in Mexico that the various U.S. secret police units (the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, etc.) which have been “embedded” in the security apparatus may have more than a little do to with our military’s “policing” policy of tending to act as executioner with alleged drug traffickers (in a country without a death penalty).  And, while it appears Mexico’s murder rate has not statistically dropped over the last decade, it also appears that the number of “drug related” deaths have … er… shot up, especially since the U.S. government began “assisting” Mexico.

And, in Mexico, the U.S. presence is more or less covert, unlike Colombia, which has stopped publishing the murder rate since the U.S. began “assisting” in their drug war, but is something on the order of three and a half to ten times that of Mexico*.

In Colombia, the U.S. forces enjoy a form of diplomatic immunity — allowing them to “carry out activities they consider necessary” without worrying about pesky little interferences like Colombian judges, international war crimes tribunals or the rights of civilians.  Or even standing charges for ordinary criminal acts. As in occupied nations, the U.S. military polices and judges itself… a combination of extraterritorial judicial rights and fuero militar:  two things Latin American democrats, liberals and progressives have been fighting against at least since the days of Simón Bolívar.

Perhaps I’m making too much of the incursion into Costa Rica.  It’s the odd country out in Central America, having a murder rate of ONLY 7.6 per 100,000 which throws off the Central America rate of 29 per 100,000.  With luck… and the “humanitarian assistance” of those Harrier jets, maybe they can be as murderous as their neighbors in Honduras, who kill each other at the rate of 67 per 100,000 every year.

All in the name of “liberty” for the United States to pretend the “war on drugs” is over.  Not that the U.S. has stopped killing people over their insatiable appetite for narcotics… they’re just want it to be our war.

* The latest estimates for “intentional homicide” in Colombia are 35.2 per 100,000, but some unofficial (and unverifiable) estimates go as high as 120 per 100,000.  Mexico’s rate is 12 per 100,000.  That’s down from 14 per 100,000 in 2000, but higher than the 10 to 11  per 100,000 of the pre-“Meridia” years.

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