Obama’s Reagan-like Drug War in Latin America

John Glaser, November 09, 2011

U.S. aid to the essentially military regime in Honduras has increased every single year since the coup in 2009, with $68 million allocated for 2012, as I wrote about recently. And, as Dana Frank at Nation magazine has documented, Obama has “allocated $45 million in new funds for military construction, including expansion and improvement of the jointly operated Soto Cano Air Force Base at Palmerola (supplied now with US drones) and has opened three new military bases.” The “Honduran police and military have launched successive waves of repression against entire campesino communities,” Frank explained, and funding “rose dramatically in June with $40 million more under the new $200 million Central American Regional Security Initiative, supposedly to combat drug trafficking in Central America.”

In addition to that, the U.S. has a documented close relationship between corporate drug lords and private paramilitaries in Honduras. Wealthy landowners with ties to the cocaine trade, like Miguel Facussé, have been orchestrating illegal land grabs and murders of peasant farmers in the countryside. Facussé supported the 2009 military coup, has met with the State Department numerous times, and met with Obama in Washington DC in the first week of October.

Honduras is becoming more and more of a cocaine hub and has a homicide rate that rivals that of Kabul, according to this Associated Press report. And now, this week the New York Times reported on the war-on-terror-style approach to the war on drugs in Honduras. Back in March, Honduran security forces and a commando team from the Drug Enforcement Administration had a deadly shootout with drug traffickers in Honduras. And apparently it was all a part of Obama’s grand scheme…

The D.E.A. now has five commando-style squads it has been quietly deploying for the past several years to Western Hemisphere nations — including Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize — that are battling drug cartels, according to documents and interviews with law enforcement officials.

The program — called FAST, for Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team — was created during the George W. Bush administration to investigate Taliban-linked drug traffickers in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2008 and continuing under President Obama, it has expanded far beyond the war zone.

If things continue like this, the Obama administration could be as terrible for Latin America as the Reagan administration was. As the Times report put it, “the FAST program is similar to a D.E.A. operation in the late 1980s and early 1990s in which drug enforcement agents received military training and entered into partnerships with local forces in places like Peru and Bolivia, targeting smuggling airstrips and jungle labs.”

The lack of reporting in the U.S. on Honduras alone is reason enough to be suspicious that Americans aren’t hearing about the highly militarized war being waged in the other above-mentioned countries with a history of American terrorism on their shores (Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, etc.).