Operation Paraguayan Freedom  

Posted by Big Gav

As has been observed before, US military bases tend to sprout up near reserves of energy or pipelines that transport it. The latest sighting (according to "Dissident Voice" anyway) is in Paraguay, just across the border from those Bolivian oil and gas fields that the locals are so keen to nationalise.

Apparently Al Qaeda is reported to be setting up bases in the region. Troublesome lot, those South American muslims, though they obviously keep a very low profile, given the apparent misconception that Latin America is full of Catholics.

The U.S. military is conducting secretive operations in Paraguay and reportedly building a new base there. Human rights groups and military analysts in the region believe trouble is brewing. However, the U.S. embassy in Paraguay denies the base exists and describes the military activity as routine. According to an article in the Bolivian newspaper, El Deber, a U.S. base is being developed in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay, 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia. The base will permit the landing of large aircraft and is capable of housing up to 16,000 troops. A contingent of 500 U.S. troops arrived in Paraguay on July 1st with planes, weapons, equipment and ammunition.

With Bolivia’s recent uprisings, their enormous gas reserves, and a presidential election on the way, this questionable activity could pave the way for a U.S. intervention. Rumors of Al Qaeda training grounds near Paraguay may also work to the Bush administration’s advantage as it makes a case for military operations in the region.

On May 26, 2005 the Paraguayan senate approved the entrance of the troops, granting them total immunity, free from Paraguayan and International Criminal Court jurisdiction. The legislature is due to expire in December 2006, but is automatically extendable. Since December 2004, the U.S. has been pressuring Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Paraguay into signing a deal which would grant immunity to U.S. military. The Bush administration threatened to deny the countries up to $24.5 million in economic and military aid if they refused to sign the deal. Paraguay was the only country to accept the offer.

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