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Costa Rica: No cheeks left to turn

category central america / caribbean | imperialism / war | press release author Thursday August 05, 2010 01:18author by Colectivo La Libertad Report this post to the editors

Statement on the growing militarization of the Caribbean & Central America

Statement by the Colectivo La Libertad from Costa Rica on the increasing militarization of Central American-Caribbean area, the growing repression of the popular movement and of any form of social protest, and their position on the approval for the stationing of thousands of US Marines on Costa Rican territory. Solidarity! [Castellano] [Français]

No cheeks left to turn

Since early July this year, plantation workers, peasants and indigenous people of the province of Changuinola in Bocas de Toro (Panama), have been on strike to defend basic labour rights threatened by the so-called "Jailhouse Law" and "Sausage Law" passed by Martinelli's militaristic right-wing government.

More than 4,000 workers affiliated to the Confederación de Trabajadores de la República de Panamá and 700 workers from the Convergencia Sindical, demonstrated on 8 July against the cancellation of the right to strike, restrictions of the freedom of association, the criminalization of protest, punishable with prison, and the elimination of union dues, when they were brutally repressed by police forces whose violence and batons left at least seven people dead, over 100 hospitalized and about 30 arrested.

These actions sparked protests in every province and the convening, by a national meeting of leaders of popular organizations, syndicates and trade unions, of a national strike for Tuesday 13 July. The worker and peasant organizations, threatened with extinction after the establishment, by law, of a Trade Union Central loyal to the government, demanded the release of the imprisoned workers and investigation into political killings.

However, the violence of the State, the official pressure and the media circus have again, as so many times in the past in this region, permitted "negotiations" and gave birth to a "way out" of the conflict. But this case is yet another example of the ways in which today the capitalist system and the State commit murder in Central America; it is an example of the barbarism which the fascist right is capable of reaching in order to impose its plans for economic liberalization, the extraction of resources and the commodification of life.

This is a trend that has been developing for several years and has been taking shape under the aegis of militarist, neo-liberal States in the region, from Mexico and Honduras, through Costa Rica, to Panama and Colombia. There is no coincidence in the close relationship of the current president of Costa Rica with Martinelli's Panamanian government (which in its most vulgar form consists of Costa Rican police involvement in acts of repression across the border inside Panama), nor the role that this country has played in the international legitimization of the coup in Honduras and the unthinkable government of Porfirio Lobo.

Nor is it a coincidence that the home-grown military presence has increased in recent months, alongside the influence and military intervention of the USA. The permission to land more than 7,000 soldiers, 46 warships and 200 US Army helicopters by the ruling governmental, evangelical and freedom-killing alliance in the Costa Rican parliament, shows in all its harshness the absence of any national sovereignty in Costa Rica, and the clear willingness of the local oligarchy to follow the orders of the gringo government's geopolitical plans.

So the lie that every day we tell ourselves about this peaceful Costa Rica of ours and about our perpetual, sacrosanct neutrality is laid bare: the American soliders will enjoy absolute immunity from Costa Rican justice, the Marines will be able to enter and leave the country at will and move throughout the country in uniform, carrying their weapons. Nobody is alarmed at the huge number of international reports of assaults, rapes and intimidation by US personnel against citizens of other occupied countries.

But do not think that this is new. The government's strategy of militarization could already be glimpsed in the exchange agreement with the Italian government to give the Costa Rican police military training in exchange for carbon credits for the European country. Not to mention the numerous occasions since 2007 when landings have been approved, similar to the above: 5 warships and 17 Coast Guard gunships 3 years ago, 13 warships with a crew of approximately 20 officers and 200 enlisted men each in 2009 (all with airplanes and helicopters), and many other aircraft landing permits for the US Coast Guard. All this supposedly in view of democratic security and the war on drugs.

The false war on drugs - whose main objectives are never the local and international mafia bosses, nor representatives of the narcopolitics of governments in the region - is just an illusion, a show of words to divert attention from the real interests: increasing US military presence in Central America and consolidating the hegemony of the neoliberal project. It comes as no surprise, then, that throughout the world those countries with the greatest US military presence are those with the largest increases in the production and marketing of drugs.

We are now seeing the consequences of these mechanisms almost daily: political repression, criminalization, the dismantling of the legal structure for rights, the criminalization of protest, media stigmatization of social struggle. This permanent war against the "other" (the immigrants, the criminal, the communist, gangs, but also the peasant, the indigenous, the poor), especially in its version known as the drug war, is actually, as we have said, a "war against the peoples" (see, "a war that does not reach the affluent North America", or is interested in seriously addressing a resolution of any conflict.

This so-called war is a systematic and calculated attack on the region. It is the explicit expression of implicit momentum: the control and dominion over the population and the resources. Business strategies serve to hide strategies for looting, cooperation initiatives serve to hide interests for control, regional security policies serve to hide policies for geopolitical domination. Examples of these forms are the free trade agreements, the Mérida Initiative ("Plan Mexico"), Plan Colombia, but also more specific signs such as the Obama-Uribe Treaty for the use of seven Colombian military bases by the United States, the recent reactivation of the Fourth Fleet, the coup d'état in Honduras, the military occupation of Haiti and the granting of new military bases in Panama.

In Central America, the rule of law begins only with its negation. Security begins only with its negation. Peace begins only with its negation. Our people live under assault from the law, unsafe, amidst constant violence. The only promise that the powers make us is that they will never tire of beating us, striking that "other cheek" that we tirelessly offer them. Thus, the only promise we can make to ourselves is to arm ourselves with dignity and ensure that no more cheeks are offered.

Colectivo La Libertad

San José, Costa Rica
July 2010

Translation by FdCA - International Relations Office

author by Vexedpublication date Thu Aug 05, 2010 18:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How can you say that South American drugs do not affect the USA? How can you say that the drug cartels and their business do not have affect here, you are insane. Most of the illegal drug problems dealt with in this country are caused by South American drug cartels and the peole they bring here. The death and violence are getting out of hand here as well as there. These people affect people every where. I have seen and heard South American "drug lords" and their lackeys say that they do it not only for the money but to help destroy our country. I'm all for taking yours down before you take ours. We fight for our country and our kids that your drugs destroy. If you don't like it keep your trash home and out of our borders.

author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Thu Aug 05, 2010 19:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Vexed: first of all, where do you get your information? please point out one, just one "drug lord" that have said they want to destroy the US. There's none, they all love it because if their biggest safest market and they are making huge profits out of the American Dream.

Other than that, where does the article say that drugs do not affect the USA? What the article say is that the "war [on drugs] that does not reach the affluent North America" what is 100% accurate to say. The bombings, the militarisation, all occur in our territories, not yours. It is perfectly reasonable to poison Colombian peasants, but not to poison Wall Street, where millions of narco dollars are exchanged and where most businesspeople there are consumers and many of them are ripping the benefits of this multi billion business. Take the drug business out of the international markets and the economy collapses, that is why there's no serious attempt to stop it -it is just an excuse to intervene and consolidate the US military hegemony in Latin America.

How is it possible that the most hi-tech army in the world cannot stop drugs flowing into the US but can certainly stop any boat coming with poor Haitians on Miami shores? how come every single country that buys into the war on drugs see their production expand and a bloodshed take place, as the different mafias try to control the State to direct its repression against the competition? (if you want examples think why the Chihuahua cartel has not been touched in Mexico and think of the "proceso 8000" in Colombia that revealed that the US intelligence and Colombian authorities favoured the Cali cartel over the Medellín cartel).

The "trash" will never stay home for various reasons:

a. Poor peasants will keep producing coca as long as it pays better than potatoes and they are to hungry, to poor, too sick to put bleeding morals before their needs;

b. Because it is a multibillion business that makes numerous mafia lords rich both in the US and Latin America, and business are business, so as long as the dollars keep flowing...

c. Because you love it!!!! The US is the biggest cocaine consumer in the entire world, and since this is a capitalist world wherever there is demand there will be offer... the "American Way" don't you love it?

Obviously none of this is of any interest to you, because it has never been about controlling the drugs, but controlling people. From the point of view of drugs as such, the war on drugs is an utter fiasco. From the point of view of imperialist interests in Latin America has been a massive victory -your unwanted presence in our territories is at a peak now thanks to this hypocritical discourse on drugs. You can hardly conceal your imperialist mentality through your nonsensical puritan lofty platitudes.

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