“Aerial detection and monitoring of suspicious air and maritime drug trafficking activities” would appear to be the objective of these military bases (Photo: U.S. Air Force).
Aruba and Curaçao are two Caribbean territories under the dominance (in terms of security and foreign policy) of the Netherlands. Since 1999, the United States has agreed to establish “counter-narcotics” operations centres on both islands.
A publication on the Tni.org website indicates that since that year there were suspicions raised. They cite The Washington Post, which reported that as of March 1999, the Clinton administration began sharing with the Colombian Armed Forces real-time intelligence on guerrilla activities from the outposts installed on these islands.
The United States, therefore, delegated a clearly functional use to these bases in their confrontation with the insurgent and leftist forces. At that time, the United States was designing its roadmap for the emergence of the Bolivarian revolution that was already in power in Venezuela.
U.S. bases on these islands are classified as “Forward Operating Locations (FOLs)” and initially supported the advance of U.S. intervention in Colombia’s internal conflict, without the Netherlands being able to influence decisions on the matter. For the purposes of Washington’s actions in the Caribbean, both islands are used at full discretion for U.S. operations.
This was pointed out in a 1999 article by academic Tom Blickman. Under the title: “U.S. Advanced Bases in Aruba and Curaçao. A contribution to the military intervention in Colombia”, Blickman explained that although it was initially proposed that the Netherlands would not allow the use of these bases for purposes of intervention in the region and that they would only have the goal of combating drug trafficking, there has been an indisputable loss of sovereignty of the Netherlands over its islands by the US government.
Since then, U.S. operations have functioned as a “black box,” without any form of accountability for their activities to local or regional political authorities.
In recent years, Venezuela has denounced the incursion of aircraft that have launched and that would have carried out electronic operations of various kinds.
In 2015, a DACH-8 military aircraft violated the airspace of the Venezuelan territorial sea at a time when the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) detected an “unusual” additional overflight of other U.S. “intelligence apparatuses” based in Curacao, according to the Ministry of Defense, Vladimir Padrino López.
In March 2018, a U.S. Air Force Boeing C17 aircraft was detected taking off from the Hato base in Curacao. On that occasion, Padrino López denounced that the aircraft carried out prospecting and reconnaissance of the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and explained that this time the plane was detected by the Los Monjes archipelago in the Gulf of Venezuela, in the northwest of the country.
The evolution of the use of these U.S. military bases has led to the formation of a “strategic arc,” which would consist of assault troops, stationed in control and monitoring settlements in several Central American and Caribbean countries, with the aim of carrying out electronic warfare tasks, espionage and the concentration of logistical devices.
The suspicions about the operational transformation of these “FOLs” were not long in coming, as the intentions revealed by the White House in recent months to carry out a military intervention in Venezuela to depose President Nicolás Maduro are evident.
In February of this year, the Government of Cuba assured in a communiqué that between the 6th and 10th of that month, flights of military transport planes from the United States to bases in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands were detected, “surely without the knowledge of the governments of those nations”.
These movements “originated in U.S. military installations from which units of Special Operations Forces and the Marine Infantry operate, which are used for covert operations, including against leaders of other countries,” the Cuban government warned.
Effectively, the military movement would be camouflaged as a alleged “humanitarian intervention” in Venezuela and would involve a tactical deployment to directly attack Venezuela’s institutional high command and thus unleash a war scenario of greater proportions.
Havana stressed that it is “evident that the United States is preparing the ground to establish a humanitarian corridor by force” and pointed out that several of its high officials have said “with arrogance and audacity that, in relation to Venezuela, ‘all options are on the table, including the military'”.
U.S. efforts in these strongholds have included the placement and deployment of equipment, which would be considered disproportionate to the fight against drug trafficking.
Frigates and aircraft carriers
It is presumed that in the occasions in which these placements occurred, the displacement capacity of the naval air force with projection to Venezuelan territory would be calibrated, weighing the particularities of the Caribbean operationally.
Recently, the think tank Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), based in Washington, sponsored a private meeting entitled “Evaluating the use of military force in Venezuela”. The Grayzone research project and journalist Max Blumenthal released the list of attendees.
Among the approximately 40 figures invited to the off-the-record event to discuss potential military action against Caracas were some of President Donald Trump’s policy advisors on Venezuela.
The list included former and current officials from the State Department, the National Intelligence Council and the National Security Council, along with Admiral Kurt Tidd, who until recently was head of the Southern Command.
In addition to high-level officials from the embassies of Colombia and Brazil, as well as the main representatives of the parallel government of the coup leader in Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, who also participated in the meeting.
Translation by Internationalist 360°
Featured Image: Dutch military personnel in the Caribbean