29 October 2008

U.S. Marines in Arima, Trinidad

U.S. Marine Sea Stallion flies low over Barataria on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008

The Mayor of Arima, Adrian Cabralis, and presumably the Deputy Mayor as well (Ricardo Bharath, who is also the head of the Santa Rosa Carib Community) played host to a contingent of U.S. Marines who are in Trinidad for "Operation Continuing Promise" (CP 2008). This mission comes with little in the way of an advance public announcement, most Trinidadians being very surprised to see two U.S. Marine Sea Stallions flying low and scouting areas along the East-West Corridor on Sunday morning. The government of Patrick Manning is aligned with the Bush regime in the U.S., and this "humanitarian exercise" in an island strategically located a mere seven miles from the Venezuelan coast comes as Venezuela prepares to host joint naval exercises with Russia in a matter of days.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning (left) and George W. Bush, June 2007

This exercise represents part of a new thrust on the part of the U.S. military to develop its troops' cultural familiarity with zones of potential military action, so that they are better accustomed to the language, terrain, climate, and broad cultural makeup of the theaters in which they are deployed. This comes as part of the U.S. military's new enchantment with "culture" and the exercise of "soft power," a means of avoiding the costly and messy outcomes of unleashing massive firepower without first enmeshing itself in local networks. Similar efforts are planned as part of the U.S.' new "Africa Command" (AFRICOM), launched this month as well. In addition, the Caribbean region is seeing the reconstitution of the U.S.' Fourth Fleet, a move seen as a threat by a number of governments in the hemisphere, including those of Brazil and Venezuela.

Captain Walt Towns, of the United States Navy and commanding officer of the USS Kearsarge, tries his hand on the steel pan at a welcoming ceremony for the ship and its contingent at the Arima Town Hall, Arima, on Monday, October 27, 2008.

With its obssession with the "global war on terror," and the sheer butchery visited on civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq on the part of American invaders and occupiers, it is disheartening -- to say the least -- to see Arima, and the Carib leader, play host to such forces without a hint of protest, or even simple questioning. It is also disappointing to see those in power turn culture into a playful showcase, forgetting the long role of culture as resistance to colonialism and imperialism. It makes one wonder about the name of the ruling party too -- the People's National Movement: Which people? What "nation" do you serve? What "movement"? And one must wonder why a nation in the middle of a petroleum and natural gas export boom, erecting one new skyscraper after another, suddenly needs a few Marines to come and treat local foot fungus and fill cavities.

Wake up.

For more see:

US ship to provide medical help
NEWSDAY, Tuesday, October 28 2008

US Marines in TT
NEWSDAY, Sunday, October 26 2008

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