by Weekly News Update on the Americas

At a meeting of Western Hemisphere defense ministers in Quito, Ecuador, on Nov. 16, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called for increased Latin American action against terrorism, hinting that the region’s militaries should be more involved in domestic law enforcement. The US has had "to conduct an arduous yet essential re-examination of the relationship between its military and law enforcement responsibilities," he said. Many Latin American countries suffered from human rights abuses while they were under the rule of US-backed military regimes in the 1970s and 1980s. As a result some, like Argentina, have tried to bar the military from policing operations. US officials have suggested that the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda is moving into the hemisphere; the US has offered no evidence, and some experts are skeptical. (Reuter, Nov. 17)

Rumsfeld visited three Central American countries on his way to Quito. After a Nov. 11-12 stay in El Salvador, Rumsfeld stopped over in Nicaragua, where President Enrique Bolanos promised to destroy the country’s more than 1,000 surface-to-air missiles, a move opposed by the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). (Nicaragua had already destroyed about 1,000 missiles by November 2003, but resisted destroying the rest). On Nov. 13 Rumsfeld arrived in Panama for talks with President Martin Torrijos. Rumsfeld promised that the US would continue to provide technical advice to the National Police on the struggle against terrorism and on security for the Panama Canal. (La Prensa, Panama, Nov. 17)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 21


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, Dec. 10, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution