Friday, April 17, 2015

The Debut of a Latin American Military Alliance

As if to put a coda on the OAS sponsored Summit of the Americas that ended last weekend in Panama with a bedazzled US mainstream media inaccurately and perhaps hopefully heralding the reestablishment of US dominance in Latin America, South American nations today announced the creation of the South American School of Defense.

The school, which will offer graduate and post graduate instruction for military and civilian personnel, is the next logical step in the process spearheaded by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to extricate Latin America from US economic and military dominance in order chart its own, more democratic path.

The South American School of Defense is being consciously billed as a counterpoint to the infamous School of the Americas based in Fort Benning Georgia, where the US has long trained those who ran the military dictatorships and torture chambers of US Latin American client states. Instead the school will provide an education that "promotes peace and democracy" and furthers the process of regional integration.

The philosophy behind the school is "a shared doctrine in terms of defense for South America which is considered a zone of peace, democratic stability and where differences are not addressed through interventionism or violence,” according to Ecuador's defense minister Fernando Cordero.

Fernando Cordero - Mercopress
The school also appears to be a first step in the creation of a NATO style military alliance that would bolster the economic alliances already established under UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) and other regional alliances* that have been replacing the US-dominated OAS (Organization of American States) as forums for Latin American economic cooperation and conflict resolution.

Yankees, Stay Home

The just concluded OAS sponsored Summit of the Americas, the first such summit attended by Cuba, ended with the US blocking the summit's final declaration because it called for an end to US aggression against Venezuela and declared health as a human right.

That development was ignored by the US media, which billed the summit as a diplomatic coup by US President Barak Obama, despite the fact that Obama left the summit having done nothing to end the isolation of the US in the region.

To the US media the summit was all about Cuban-US rapprochement. The US media generally hasn't  reported that US overtures to Cuba are part of a dual strategy by the US to gain goodwill in Latin America, which has universally condemned US treatment not only of Cuba but of Venezuela, and to attempt to drive a wedge between Cuba and its most important ally Venezuela. Neither has the US media reported that the timing of US raproachment efforts toward Cuba were forced by the announcement by several Latin American countries that they would boycott last week's summit unless Cuba attended. The US before this year has always blocked Cuban participation in Summit of the Americas conferences.

* UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations
   CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
   ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America

All are organizations initiated by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and include as members some countries, such as Columbia and Uruguay, that still consider themselves close US allies and client states.

Although their goals are the betterment of their countries and peoples, a first order of business of the groups has necessarily been to counter US dominance of Latin America by various means.

No one I know of asserts that there hasn't been a tremendous change in Latin America vis a vis the US role there since Hugo Chavez began the project of uniting Latin America in opposition to US dominance. The US government, and friendly media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and others, still issue daily propaganda against Latin American Leftist leaders that exaggerate and even misstate some of the problems they've had, but in Latin America itself there's an entirely different story unfolding.

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