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US Militarization Is A Threat To Peace

Above photo: Exercise planners take group photo during the TRADEWINDS 2024 Initial Planning Conference. SOUTHCOM.

U.S. militarization of the Caribbean stands in the way of achieving peace in the region.

From 4-16 May, the 39th annual Tradewinds military exercise took place in Barbados, co-hosted by the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) and the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

This year’s exercise, dubbed Tradewinds 2024, involved more than 1600 military personnel from 26 participating countries plus representation from various regional organisations. In addition to the USA, which led the exercise, participants came from mostly Caribbean countries except Cuba; the old European colonial powers of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands; Canada and the Latin American countries of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico.

The following Caribbean regional organisations also participated: the CARICOM Secretariat, the Regional Security System (RSS), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOS) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The list of participants gives an insight into the all-encompassing nature of this military exercise.

Tradewinds 2024  is part of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Large Scale Global Exercises for 2024 and is described by SOUTHCOM as “a Caribbean-focused multi-dimensional training exercise focused on the ground, air, sea, and cyber domains”. Given the nature of the military exercise it, not surprisingly, involved personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S Navy, and elements of the United States Special Operations Command (South).

Speaking at the opening ceremony Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF), Commodore Errington Shurland, declared that, “….the focus this year is on foreign military interaction, maritime operations, ground security and field training exercises supporting SOUTHCOM’s campaign plan”. This highlights the fact that Tradewinds 2024 is not about protecting the people of the Caribbean but about supporting the military plans of the US Southern Command in the region.

The Tradewinds military exercise, which first took place in 1984, is itself part of the military/security machinery that the US has built up in the region since its invasion of Grenada in 1983. This machinery is intended to ensure that there will be no repeats of revolution in the region and that the people of the Caribbean will remain in the box that the enslaving and colonial powers have had us in for the last 400 years. It also underlines the fact that the so-called defence forces in the region are not there to protect the people of the Caribbean but are modern day versions of the old West Indian regiments raised by the European powers to defend their plantation wealth from the enslaved Africans and competing colonial powers. They serve the US and its colonialist allies, not the citizens of the Caribbean countries.

At the same time that the Tradewinds exercise was taking place, the US was stepping up its overall militarisation of the region. Speaking on BreakThrough News , Professor Jemima Pierre, who is Haitian, pointed out that the US has already landed 9 military flights in Haiti, with the expectation that there will be around another 100 of these. She further stated that these flights are part of the US plan to construct a military base in Haiti to house the invasion force that it has sub-contracted out to Kenya and other CARICOM states and that this current military occupation is part of a 10 year plan that the US has for the subjugation of Haiti.

As if this was not enough, the US is also militarising Guyana and using that country as a base from which to threaten Venezuela. In the midst of Tradewinds 2024, the US embassy in Guyana tweeted  that two U.S. Navy aircraft, F/A-18F Super Hornets had conducted a flyover of Guyana’s capital, Georgetown and the surrounding areas. This is when there are persistent rumours that SOUTHCOM intends to establish a military base in Guyana. In response, the government of Venezuela denounced the actions of the US, with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil describing it as “further proof of the provocations made to Venezuela by the US Southern Command”.

The continued militarisation of the Caribbean by the US is a serious threat to peace in our region and poses a real danger to plunge the region into bloodshed. It does not serve the interests of the Caribbean people. It represents a direct attack on the 2014 Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) declaration  that the Caribbean must remain a zone of peace.

The declaration noted that, “peace is a supreme asset and a legitimate aspiration of all peoples and that preserving peace is a substantial element of Latin America and Caribbean integration and a principle and common value of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)” and affirmed, its “permanent commitment to solve disputes through peaceful means with the aim of uprooting forever threat or use of force in our region”.

These principles need to be actively defended to block the US from setting our common home on fire with its incessant militarisation.

US military out of the Caribbean!

End the Tradewinds military exercise!

No to the invasion of Haiti!

For a peaceful settlement of the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute!

Originally published in Caribbean Empowerment Blog.

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