US sends fleet to Caribbean


Richard Moore

From our blog:


US launches major military exercises in the Caribbean as a
warning to Venezuela and Cuba

By Jorge Martin (Hands Off Venezuela – Thursday, 30 March 2006

According to a press release by the US Southern Command on
Monday, March 27: "A U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group will
deploy from the U.S. east coast to the Caribbean Sea to
conduct Operation Partnership of the Americas from early
April through late May 2006." The strike group will be
composed of "aircraft carrier USS George Washington with
embarked air wing, Cruiser USS Monterey, Destroyer USS
Stout, and Frigate USS Underwood". This means that the US
Navy will be sending 4 ships, one of them carrying 60
fighter planes, and a total of 6,500 soldiers on a major
military exercise in the Caribbean starting in the next few
weeks. (see: U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group to make
Caribbean deployment)

The stated aims of this exercise are: "enhancing
military-to- military relationships with regional partner
nations, improving operational readiness, and fostering good
will." By "fostering good will" what is meant is sending a
strong message to Venezuela and Cuba. The commander of the
US Southcom General Bantz Craddock has on many occasions
attacked the Venezuelan government. The decision to send
this unusually large force to the Caribbean was announced
just two weeks after General Craddok spoke at a US Senate
committee hearing in which he called the Venezuelan
government a "destabilizing force" because of its moves in
the international arena, as well as ongoing efforts to
purchase weapons, particularly from China. "The purchase of
military equipment has not been a transparent process. This
is a destabilizing factor in a region where nations are
making joint efforts to face international threats, rather
than fighting each other," he stated. And he added: "We are
not fully convinced that such ample and large purchases have
an origin in Venezuelan national defense concerns."

In a press conference during his visit to Uruguay in June
2005 he was even more specific: "I do not see Cuba as a
military threat to the United States, I do not see Venezuela
as a military threat to the United States, what I do see is
an influence in Latin America that creates, potentially
creates instability and uncertainty, because in Cuba,
obviously it is a totalitarian state, a communist state, and
in Venezuela it appears that democratic processes and
institutions are at risk. That has great opportunity to
create, again, instability and uncertainty throughout the
region if those processes are exported. So we are concerned,
and we believe the neighbors in the region should also be

In a thinly disguised threat of military intervention,
General Craddock added: "The military aspect is to create
conditions to allow other solutions to work, economic,
political, social". (http://

In the recently released Strategy for National Security,
2006 document Washington clearly sees Venezuela as a target:
“In Venezuela, a demagogue inundated with petrol money is
undermining democracy and trying to destabilize the region.”

It is clear that the current military exercises must be seen
in this context. An article in the Virginian Pilot newspaper
quoted a few of them: "The presence of a U.S. carrier task
force in the Caribbean will definitely be interpreted as
some sort of signal by the governments of Cuba and
Venezuela,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute,
a pro-defense think tank in Washington, who added: "the fact
we are doing it now will be interpreted by Castro and Chavez
as indicative of some sort of U.S. plan, or initiative, or
whatever you want to call it". (GW strike group will head
south for training, Jack Dorsey, Virginian Pilot, March

The US Southcom already has a number of military bases
within reach of Venezuelan territory. These include smaller
"Cooperative Security Locations" based in Aruba and Curaçao
off the coast of Venezuela, in Manta in Ecuador and in El
Salvador, together with larger bases in Soto Cano in
Honduras, Guantánamo in Cuba and in several locations in
Colombia. Southcom has just issued a new "theater command
strategy", part of which has been declassified.

Objective number one is to guarantee that "regional energy
supplies will flow freely into international markets and
will not be targets of aggression." Essential to meeting
this security objective, says Southcom, is improving the
ability of "partner nation security forces to protect
critical infrastructure" of the energy industry in the
region. This clearly affects Venezuela, which is the 3rd
largest supplier of oil to the United States.

A number of objectives have not been declassified, but then
number six is to "prevent rogue states from supporting
terrorist organizations". Considering there are no "rogue"
states in Latin America, this can only be a reference to
Venezuela, which Washington has accused, without presenting
any proof, of supporting the Farc guerrillas in Colombia
(described by Gen Braddock as "narco- terrorists").

Usually the corporate media dismisses president Chavez's
warnings of the danger of a US military intervention against
the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. But information
publicly available shows that this is a very real danger.
Washington is not likely to start an open war in Venezuela
at this particular time, when they are bogged down in a war
they cannot win in Iraq, but they are certainly making

One way in which military intervention can take place is by
artificially fostering autonomist demands in Zulia, the oil
rich Venezuelan state on the border with Colombia. Local
politicians in this region (one of only two with an
opposition governor) have been busy demanding a referendum
on autonomy. A scenario could be envisaged in which they
declare independence unilaterally and ask for foreign
intervention to guarantee their "democratic rights". Such an
intervention would be easier to justify and could even take
place under the guise of "peace-keeping" (as is currently
the case with the imperialist intervention in Haiti).

This would obviously not be an easy task. Chavez has already
pointed out, correctly, that the day after military
intervention by the US against Venezuela, the whole
continent would be in flames. Latin America is witnessing a
shift to the left with mass movements, general strikes,
insurrections, elections of governments which are seen as
being left wing by the masses, etc.

The United States is seriously worried about the impact the
Venezuelan revolution is having in the rest of Latin
America. They are accusing Chavez of interfering in the
election campaigns in Peru and Mexico, as they accused him
of interfering in the elections in December in Bolivia in
which Evo Morales won a landslide victory. The accusation
that the Venezuelan government is directly financing
candidates in other countries is obviously wrong. But what
is certainly true is that the Bolivarian revolution has
raised the hopes of the masses of workers and peasants
throughout the continent and beyond.

It has provided an example that it is possible to challenge
the policies imposed by Washington. In previous decades a
familiar pattern would take place in Latin America. The
masses of workers and peasants went on the move and elected
a progressive government which would soon be overthrown by a
military coup engineered from the US.

This had a demoralising effect on the mass movement in the
continent. The Bolivarian revolution has also changed that
with the defeat of the military coup against Chavez in April
2002 by the mass movement of the people in the streets.

And the effect is not only in Latin America but also in the
United States where millions of Latinos live and work, many
of them keeping links with their countries of origin. The
enormous hundreds of thousands of Latin American immigrants
in the United States who have been demonstrating and going
on strike for their rights in the last few weeks, would not
remain idle if the US staged a military provocation against

All this makes the Bolivarian revolution even more dangerous
to the ruling class in the United Sates. They are carrying
out careful preparations to put an end to it. These include
a campaign of relentless pressure, through the media,
through diplomacy and economic sabotage, trying to prevent
the purchase of weapons by Venezuela, etc. And the current
military exercises in the Caribbean are clearly part of
these preparations, both as a threat and as a concrete
preparation for future military intervention.

For these reasons it is more important than ever to redouble
the efforts of the solidarity movement. Hands Off

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