(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India
ENCIRCLEMENT OF VENEZUELA
Plays Junior to US Imperialism
MEDIA organisations in the Netherlands
are currently busy publicising how the “war-mongering” president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is “preparing
for a war
and also ranting against the Dutch country. The latest campaign of
stories depicting Chavez as a “crazy populist,” now up in arms against
innocent, “civilised Netherlands,”
started soon after Chavez accused the Netherlands
of colluding with the United States against his
On December 17, as a Boston.com
story based on an Associated
Press report emanating from Copenhagen
the recent climate change summit said, Chavez accused the Netherlands of allowing the United States to use the Dutch islands
coast to prepare for a possible military attack against his country.
Venezuelan leader said the US
military has, in order to prepare for a possible offensive, sent its
intelligence agents, warships and spy planes to Aruba, Curacao and
which are among the Dutch islands in the Caribbean.
It is to
be noted here that the Netherlands
has two groups of islands in the Caribbean --- Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles (earlier called the Dutch
Antilles). The Antilles consist
of Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Maarten (Saint Martin), Sint Eustatius and Saba. Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, commonly known
as ABC Islands,
lie only 15 to 50 miles off the Venezuelan coast.
Referring to these very ABC
Islands which “are still
under an imperial regime, the Netherlands," Chavez said, "Europe
should know that the North American empire is sending to these islands
assassins, American intelligence units, spy planes and warships."
Outlining how it is a part of Washington’s
broader plan to undermine the leftist governments in Latin America and
Caribbean, including Ecuador,
Nicaragua, Bolivia and Cuba,
and how this plan is “a threat to all the people of Latin America and
the Caribbean," the Venezuelan
president on this
occasion urged the European Union to take a stand. "I would like to
the European Union has to say about this," Chavez said, adding that
Netherlands is responsible for this."
Though a spat between the Netherlands
and Venezuela is
something new, Chavez's latest remarks were so far his strongest
against the Netherlands.
Three years ago, too, he had protested against the Dutch government
the US, calling the
minister a "pawn of Washington."
This minister, Chavez said, was part of an orchestrated campaign to
as a "tyrant making plans for invasions of the neighbouring
The latest round of spat began
soon after Bogota signed a ten years
lease agreement with Washington
end of October 2009. This deal allows the US military to use, the way
likes, the Colombian military bases which are seven in number. The
had established their air force bases in Aruba and Curacao.
This was what led Chavez to say that "Venezuela is being
Amsterdam was prompt in denying President
charge as “baseless” and summoned Venezuela’s ambassador
there for an
explanation of Chavez’s comments. Yet, what remains uncontested is that
the US military is
using the Dutch islands in the Caribbean.
For example, Ian Allen of IntelNews reported
on December 24 that no less than Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch minister of
affairs, has admitted that the US
military is well there in Aruba and Curacao.
is another thing that according to the minister, (1) this military
a part of the US’s
against drugs,” and (2) that the US military
activities in the Netherlands Antilles
that, he has so far maintained stoic silence, refusing to divulge any
about what is really going on in Aruba and Curacao.
On the other hand, several
writers including Noam
Chomsky and Eva Golinger have pointed out in a series of articles how
so-called “war against drugs” has in reality nothing to do with drug
It has rather been used for other causes such as fighting against
movements and the spying of other countries. Since the start of the
against drugs,” they have pointed out, there has only been more
consumption of drugs.
We cannot forget, either, that
conveniently overlooked the large-scale cultivation of opium in Afghanistan and its smuggling to the
countries till the Taliban’s bonhomie with the US continued. Thus the
the US is building
of bases in the Caribbean to wage a
against drugs is vacuous from end to end.
In any case, observers see
nothing surprising in that the
in the US’s
so-called “war against drugs” and the so-called “war against terror.”
is that the Dutch government has a tradition of tailing behind American
imperialism in world affairs. After the United
Kingdom, the Netherlands
is the US’s most
in West Europe. The cabinet of the
minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, who is in power since August 2002,
full support to the invasion of Iraq that, as we know, was based on
At present the Dutch have their troops in Afghanistan as well,
the name of rebuilding the country but in reality to prop up the Karzai
Here it would be better to go a
little back into
history. In 1999, the Netherlands
and the US signed
agreement for the establishment of Forward Operating Locations (FOLs),
gave the US
military a right
to use the air force bases in Aruba and Curacao.
soon began to use these bases against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
guerrilla movement for liberation, while purportedly fighting against
smuggling in the region. Then, with the election of George Bush Junior
presidency, the US
further widened the scope of these bases. The Bush administration saw Venezuela, which the poor and working
people of Latin America began to
regard as a beacon of hope, as a
front-rank enemy and, in 2002, the CIA engineered a coup against the
democratically elected Hugo Chavez, though the attempt was aborted.
there have been many more intrigues against Venezuela.
In 2006, the US, Netherlands,
Belgium, UK, France and
Canada conducted a big military exercise in the Caribbean, named Joint
Caribbean Lion 2006, which was clearly a provocation to Venezuela.
Venezuelan government protested, the then Dutch minister of defence,
and some rightwing MPs accused Chavez of “wishing to conquer the Antilles.” This was based on a false statement
the Venezuelan opposition, to the effect that Chavez claimed every inch
200 miles from the Venezuelan coast as Venezuelan territory. In
however, Chavez had clearly talked of 12 and not 200 miles in his
The recent moves at
militarisation of the neighbouring
Colombia and the
grant of seven
military bases to the US
troops have added a new dimension to the conflict. That Venezuela is not talking nonsense, as
media keep claiming, is clear from the fact that Colombia’s
military spending now is
five per cent of its gross domestic product. It was only 2.5 per cent
peak of its struggle against the FARC.
Next, the US
stationed its Fourth Fleet back in the Caribbean
in 2008. This fleet was disbanded in 1950, but now it is back and close
On top of that, Venezuela
has detected a number of
spy planes in its air space. On many occasions, the US’s
Boeing RC-135 has taken off from Curacao
in the Venezuelan air space. An unmanned US
drone also made an attempt to enter the Venezuelan air space from
on Sunday, December 20. All this ultimately compelled Chavez to order
shooting of any spy plane violating his country’s air space.
There thus remains no doubt
about the Netherlands
playing the role of a junior partner
of the US in the
after Iraq and Afghanistan.
the mounting popular demand, the Netherlands
government has refused to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan,
as its first priority is to comply with President Obama’s demand that Amsterdam keep
there for a longer period. A majority of the Dutch people is in favour
withdrawal of the troops.
In the Dutch parliament, the
Party (SP) has several times raised questions about the US intrigues in the Caribbean and the Netherlands
government’s complicity therein. But all such questions remain
the ten years period of the lease deal with the US is
already over, and a majority
of the Dutch are against a renewal of the agreement, the government has
so far not
given any commitment in this regard.
On December 22,
2009, Harry van Bommel, a
socialist MP, also charged that US
spy planes are using an airbase in the island of Curacao.
As reported by Global
Research, a wing of Radio Netherlands, Bommel asked the foreign minister Maxime Verhagen whether
was aware that the Boeing RC-135 aircraft has been making regular
reconnaissance flights from the Caribbean
island's Hato airport over the past few weeks.
Asking for a ban
on American military
flights between the Antilles and Colombia,
Bommel stressed that it is up to the Netherlands
to help de-escalate the tensions in its relations with Venezuela.
IN THE REGION
After the US
had to withdraw its military from Panama
in 1999 in accordance with the Panama Canal treaties, it
re-concentrated its troops
and commands in Puerto Rico, which
to a vigorous protest movement there. This forced the US Navy to vacate
range in Vieques on May 1, 2003, followed by the closure of the massive
Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in
March 2004. Regional
headquarters of the army, navy and Special Forces were also moved out
Rico and taken to Texas and Florida. The
Southern Command (SouthCom) had
to be headquartered in Miami.
However, the US Navy still
continues to operate an
"outer range" of nearly 2,00,000 square miles to practise high-tech
naval manoeuvres, an underwater tracking range for submarines, and an
electronic warfare range in waters near Vieques. The navy and military
contractors have used these ranges to test their sophisticated ships
systems. The US Army too has access to a large National Guards firing
range at Camp Santiago
in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
In addition, the Pentagon is
investing in expanding
the military infrastructure in the four military bases in the region
Curacao and Comalapa (El
Salvador), known as "cooperative
security locations." These CSLs are equipped with what the US
monitoring and interdiction facilities.
After its withdrawal from Panama,
Washington also signed ten-year
with Ecuador, the Netherlands (for Aruba and Curacao) and
All this is in addition to the
including a missile tracking station on Ascension Island in the
Caribbean, at Soto
Cano in Palmerola (Honduras)
and in Antigua, Peru,
Colombia and on Andros Island
in the Bahamas.
The US military
used its offices
for more than 50 years before its eviction from there in May 2004.
naval station in Guantanamo
Bay enjoys a lease
no termination date. It served as a
for counter-drug operations and for years as an offshore detention
besides posing a threat to Cuba,
to which the Guantanamo
soil belongs. We need not remind anybody about the notoriety the US detention centre in Guantanamo
achieved as a centre of inhuman torture.
Though the US
military had to move out of Panama
at the end of 1999, the Pentagon continues its military flights into
and out of
Panama daily under a
contract to transport cargo and passengers between Honduras,
Panama and Colombia.
In June 2002, the US
signed an agreement with Costa Rica for an
International Law Enforcement
Academy, but popular movements have so far prevented its ratification.
Bases belonging to Latin
American militaries but built
or used by US soldiers are not considered US bases; yet they serve the
purpose. These include the Joint Riverine
Training Centre in Iquitos,
too, US military personnel are housed in bases which are Colombian in