AMONG THE MANY foreign policy issues you won't hear mentioned by any of the
presidential candidates is the fact that the United States is planning to
build a military base in El Salvador.
As the U.S. Army prepares to enter the civil war raging in Colombia,
American military strategists are searching for a military beachhead from
which to supply troops sent to Latin America.
El Salvador is the country of choice because Panama, Costa Rica,
Venezuela and Mexico have all refused American requests for what the U.S.
military calls an ``anti-drug listening post.''
U.S. officials insist that the American garrison will have a limited
presence in this war-
shattered country. The military, they say, would fly only two P-3 Orion
reconnaissance planes, build a small number of radar outposts and station 60
American soldiers and their families in El Salvador.
But according to the official accord signed between the United States and
El Salvador, there is no limit on the total number of
soldiers and planes or buildings on the new military base.
Many Salvadorans are justifiably wary about the prospect of a new
American military base. Twenty years ago, the United States supported an
authoritarian right-wing government whose death squads waged one of the
harshest anti-insurgency campaigns against leftist guerrillas in Central
America. Fierce opposition in Congress and a vocal anti-war movement
ultimately ended American support in 1992, but not before 70,000 people had
lost their lives in a brutal 12-year war.
Now former guerrilla fighters, who just last March won the majority of
seats in the National Assembly, fear that the United States will attempt to
undermine their electoral success. Their concerns are legitimate.
American citizens should be concerned as well. As the United States
pursues its militarized battle against drugs in Colombia -- without support
from European allies -- our government risks spreading war throughout
Central and Latin America.
©2000 San Francisco Chronicle