Zeina Awad published a short article today on the Honduran Soldiers that have been enlisted to fight the War on Drugs in Central America. The article is a summary of an investigation for the Al Jazeera program Fault Lines, and she gives a good overview of the US drug war expansion effort. She also touches on some of the less than obvious dynamics of a proxy war: ambiguity in the role of the 600 US soldiers currently deployed to the region,
There are three American forward bases in Honduras today. The US commander for Central America at the time of our filming told us 600 American soldiers are based in the country. Keeping a low profile is part of their strict rules of engagement. That profile rose in May, when Honduran security forces on board a US-owned helicopter mistook civilians for drug dealers, then shot and killed four of them in a village called Ahuas. An elite team from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was on board. The incident has raised profound questions about the US’s engagement in Latin America And the DEA has been in the media spotlight ever since.
On the flow of military equipment from around the world to the newest front in the drug war:
This year alone, the US will spend over a $100 million on counternarcotics and anti-crime activities. Evidence of how that money was being put to use was on open display. Brand new Made-in-the-USA army fatigues, stocks of ammunition and M60 machine guns lay across the base. During the Vietnam War, door gunners on board of helicopters used the M60, which they nicknamed The Pig because of its bulky size, in the jungles of Southeast Asia. They are reusing it now, 50 years later, in the jungles of Central America.
She also asks the question that more and more people are asking:
At the end of our trip to Honduras, I asked a US official a question that many in the US and Latin America have been asking for decades: how much death and destruction needs to take place before US is finally prepared to rethink its war on drugs?
Watch Fault Lines: “The US and Honduras” to find out his answer.
Fault Lines can be seen on Al Jazeera English at the following times (all GMT) : Tuesday, August 14: 22:30, Wednesday, August 15: 09:30; Thursday, August 16: 03:30; Friday, August 17: 16:30; Saturday, August 18: 22:30; Sunday, August 19: 0930; Monday, August 20: 03:30; Tuesday, August 21: 16:30.