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Zelaya on Route to Honduras;
US Pumping Up Military Bases in Colombia

By Eva Golinger
July 16, 2009 -

Honduran Foreign Minister (constitutional) Patricia Rodas has announced that President Manuel Zelaya is currently on route to Honduras to reunite with the people in resistance to the coup regime, now on its third week.

On Tuesday, President Zelaya issued an "ultimatum" to the coup regime, warning that if they do not step down by Saturday - during the next scheduled "mediation" meeting in Costa Rica - then he will consider the dialogue process, imposed by Washington, as a failure. And he will return and rescue constitutional order, along with the masses in the streets, by any means necessary.

The Department of State responded to Zelaya's statements, calling on him to have patience and "let the mediation process work". But as the Obama White House calls on a democratically elected president, who was violently kidnapped and forced into exile by a military force trained, armed and commanded by the Pentagon, the US Government continues to do absolutely nothing to tighten the pressure on an increasingly repressive coup regime in Honduras.

The Committee of Family Members of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras published a report today detailing more than 1155 cases of Human Rights violations committed by the coup regime since June 28, 2009. Of those, there have been 4 political assassinations, 6 gravely injured, 16 threatened with death, 59 injured, 13 media outlets closed or censored, 14 journalists detained, of which the majority have been expelled forcefully from the country, and 1046 arbitrary detentions. Where are the State Department reports on human rights violations now? They are always quick to condemn Venezuela for made up violations in order to demonize the government, but when real violations and crimes are committed by a repressive regime favored by Washington, then the policy is silence.

Meanwhile, Washington is busy moving its military installations from Manta, Ecuador, where it has maintained a Forward Operating Location (FOL) since 1999, to neighboring Colombia, pumping up its presence next to Venezuela. The base in Manta was established per a ten-year contract created in 1999, when the Pentagon formally closed its big air force base in Panamá (Howard Air Force Base) and proceeded to set up several Forward Operation Locations (FOLs) in the region - in Manta, Ecuador; Aruba and Curaçao, and Comalapa, El Salvador. At the same time, the Pentagon substantially increased its capacity in the Soto Cano air base in Honduras, which is at the center of the recent coup d'etat against President Zelaya (see my blog entries below).

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador refused to renew the Pentagon's contract to maintain its presence at the Manta base, forcing its ouster this year. The US began its move today. Despite the persistent denials by US Ambassador in Colombia, William Brownfield, regarding the Manta base's relocation to Colombia, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe confirmed the relocation today, stating, "obtaining agreements with countries like the United States, so that, with all due respect to the Colombian constitution, and Colombian autonomy, they help us in the war against terrorism, against drug trafficking, is in the best interests of our country." The agreement negotiated between Colombia and the US establishes the use of Colombian bases in Malambo (northern part of the country), Palanquero and Apiay (center of Colombia) by US military forces. Colombia is also offering use of two other bases in Larandia, in the Caquetá State and Tolemaida, in the center of the country. The agreement is for an initial 10-year period and authorizes the presence of 800 US military forces and 600 private security forces as contracted by the Pentagon. The US has pledged over $5 billion (US taxpayer dollars!!) to improve base operations and set up shop in the South American nation that rests right next door to both Venezuela and Ecuador, two nations considered "adversarial" by Washington.

This makes clear that the Obama Administration is continuing directly on the same militarization path as the previous administrations and it is paving the way for the provocation of a major conflict in the region. Will the empire never listen?

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