The ”Plus Ultra” brigade: Occupants on request

The ”Plus Ultra” brigade: Occupants on request

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By Carlos Iaquinandi Castro

The Plus Ultra Brigade, made up of Spanish troops and from four Latin American countries, is now replacing the US Marines in the occupation and control of the Diwaniya area, in the south of Iraqi territory. A symbol of "reconstruction".

The Plus Ultra Brigade, made up of Spanish troops and from four Latin American countries, is now replacing the US Marines in the occupation and control of the Diwaniya area, in the south of Iraqi territory. Solemn formations, flags that go and flags that come, all foreign to the land they occupy. A symbol of "reconstruction".

The chief of operations of the Spanish detachment, Lieutenant Colonel González Sánchez Gamboa - whom an interpreter translated into Arabic - said: "The Army, the base of any country, is here to help, to guarantee the reconstruction of the noble Iraqi people, so that after years of horrors may see a future full of light. " Unintentionally timely phrase if one takes into account that the population is still in the dark because the US troops have withdrawn without fulfilling their commitment to replace the electrical system destroyed by their bombings.

With these formal acts, the Plus Ultra Brigade and the countries involved assume a responsibility delegated by the occupying coalition, although under Polish military command, another government that decided from the outset to join G. Bush's warrior proposal. 1,300 Spaniards and 300 Dominicans occupy the province of Al Qadisiya, while the total of 800 soldiers from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua are deployed in the small province of Najaf.

In other words, despite all the puns about "humanitarian mission" and "reconstructions", the newcomers replace the US Marines in their fundamental function: to maintain control of the population, a requirement that - potentially - may lead to to have to repress Iraqi citizens. The American and British governments thus obtain complicity with which they try to make up the occupation adjusted to their own interests, as an operation with a certain "international" air.

Recruiting for Central America

An important part in this achievement has been the head of the Spanish government, to whom Bush delegates tasks such as recruiting Latin American soldiers or putting pressure on their governments. At the beginning of June, the US Undersecretary of Defense Dov Salomon and the Spanish Minister of Defense Fernando Diez Moreno traveled to Central America to meet with the presidents and with the defense officials of Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Central theme was to adjust details of the participation with national troops in the Plus Ultra brigade.

At the beginning of July, José María Aznar himself tied those commitments when he traveled to the Central American Summit of heads of government and spoke with Enrique Bolaños, Ricardo Maduro, and Francisco Flores, presidents of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. They were joined by Hipólito Mejía, for the Dominican Republic. The Guatemalan Portillo adhered by word of mouth, but finally avoided sending troops. (Perhaps he needs them in his unconstitutional attempt to run former dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt as a presidential candidate). Costa Rica also supported verbally, in this case with the justifiable argument of not having an Army.

Later, Gen. Richard Myers, Chief of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a brief tour of the countries involved with the detail that in El Salvador he predicted that the soldiers of that country would perform "in a superb manner." And he concluded with a disturbing promise: "I will pray that its members return healthy to their families."

In Nicaragua, he took the opportunity to tell Bolaños that to do the job, he had to destroy several hundred surface-to-air missiles that his army maintains, "lest they end up in the hands of terrorists." Bolaños, acting more like a second-level US official than responsible for a supposedly sovereign country, was quick to say yes, or at least that's what General Myers later proclaimed without anyone denying it. Faced with subsequent criticism from the Sandinista opposition, Bolaños said that his yes was limited to the fact that that possibility would be studied.

"If I kept quiet I would feel guilty."

In the Dominican Republic, the coordinator of the Youth Ministry of the Catholic Church sent a public letter to the 300 Dominican soldiers before they left for Iraq. "To say that you are going on a mission to rebuild the people of Iraq is an understatement. You are going with your presence to legalize, and even support, a military action, as it sounds." "It hurts me, above all, that you are young, because it is young people who are subjected to this type of physical and moral attack, using them as guinea pigs," wrote priest Luis Rosario. And he added: "If I were to remain silent in the midst of so much silence, I would feel guilty about a non-negotiable commitment that I have in favor of peace."

In Honduras, the proposal had the vote of 66 deputies, the majority of the ruling National Party. Sixty-two legislators voted against, who affirmed that "they had no reason to legitimize as a country, the American and British genocide in Iraq." The first group of 123 soldiers from Honduras, departed on a chartered flight from Palmerola, which is a North American military base located 70 km. from the capital, Tegucigalpa.

In El Salvador, the ruling Nationalist Republican Alliance party, ARENA, was decisive for the proposal to send troops to Iraq to go ahead. The votes of these deputies were joined by those of the Christian Democracy and the National Conciliation party.

The opposition of the Farabundo Martí Front voted against it. President Flores spared no effort to comply with the White House directives. A sad role for the ruler of a country where privatizations continue, the national currency is dollarized, there is a lack of land for peasants and the poverty from which thousands of citizens try to escape through painful and constant migration continues to increase. One in four Salvadorans lives in the US, and 14% of the country's income comes from remittances from immigrants.

In the Nicaraguan parliament, Bolaños' proposal to send two military groups of 115 men each was approved with the favorable vote of his own caucus and of the deputies who answer to former president Arnoldo Alemán, currently in jail accused in various cases of fraud and theft of state assets for personal gain. Sandinista congressman Nelson Artola - president of the Legislative Human Rights Commission - argued that basically and as an ally of the United States, Bolaños is trying to legitimize the invasion of Iraq.

Who will pay for the intervention?

In the four Latin American countries there is great confusion about the total cost of the operation, the origin of the funds, the insurance that covers the soldiers involved and the remuneration they will receive while they are carrying out the mission in Iraq. In principle, it was stated that the "invitation" to participate included the United States bearing the costs. But there was no official and transparent information on the matter and the parliamentary debates have not clarified these issues either. Popular organizations and social movements fear that all or part of the money will come out of the state coffers.

In Nicaragua, for example, they denounce that the aid promised by the United States did not arrive and that with contributions from the national budget only "some" military personnel have been insured. According to the head of the Army - Javier Carrión - the soldiers were promised life insurance and compensation ranging from a minimum of 400 to a maximum of 2,800 dollars a month. In Tegucigalpa, the relatives of the Honduran soldiers claim that they will be paid $ 150 per month. Meanwhile, retired Colonel Roberto Mendoza Garay affirms that the Honduran military will be in constant danger because they are not endorsed by the United Nations; It is a troop - he adds - that will support the United States Army. "

The truth is that the North American and Spanish pressure on the Latin American governments has obtained a meager harvest. Promises and threats have been used once again to get the implications of four governments. Four obedient leaders who know that getting along with the White House is good… for them. And they develop policies that increase the misery and marginalization of their citizens and favor transnational corporations. They have tried to disguise this pathetic role of "comparsa" in the military occupation of Iraqi territory, with patriotic evocations and the waving of flags and banners. They have tried to exalt national pride that "their troops" are required on an international mission. But words do not feed, nor do they cover the misery, nor do they solve the very serious social situation for which they are directly responsible. "The great powers have taken advantage of the weakness of the Central American countries to strengthen their interests," said Giovanni Contreras, a journalist for the Guatemalan daily La Hora. And he added: "That is why they have used their armies to use them as pieces or pawns of other commands."

What reconstruction?

In Spain, José María Aznar has refused on four occasions to give explanations in Parliament about his role as "aide-de-camp" to President Bush. His sentences pronounced from the tranquility of party events, dinners or press conferences, are limited to following the trail set by the White House. Talk about "reconstruction and pacification" of Iraq. It ignores all the complaints about the lies that protected "the war" declared in the Azores and the criticisms of the true role that the Spanish government plays in this plot of interests. Meanwhile, the facts give the reason to the hundreds of thousands of protesters who for weeks demonstrated against the invasion. A British official acknowledges that Saddam Hussein's 45-minute strike capacity was not with weapons of mass destruction but with "automatic rifles and mortars." It seems like a joke, but it's true. The United States seized Iraqi oil and used it to pay for the rebuilding of what its bombings destroyed. But he says that it is not enough and Spain will convene a meeting of "donor countries" so that "everyone can contribute." The United Nations continues in its sad role, appearing on the scene when Bush needs it or laying down its own victims when he becomes the target of the wrath of the occupied. Large US companies, including those linked to Vice President Dick Cheney, will earn billions from reconstruction works on Iraqi territory. The real "reconstruction" will be that of a sector of the American private economy. Meanwhile the Iraqi population continues to lack essential services such as electricity and telephone in much of the country. The health structure is broken and the only contribution for its weak improvement comes from humanitarian organizations and missions.

What pacification?

At the last minute, the Spanish government decided to replace the planned shipment of VEC exploration vehicles with Centauro tanks equipped with a 105/52 mm gun. gauge. In this way, they notably reinforce the firepower of the "peacekeeping" brigade. The Spanish Secretary of Defense and government commissioner for Iraq, Fernando Diez Moreno, said that with these changes he does not know what the final cost of the operation will be for the finances of his country. He advanced an estimate of 120 million euros until December 30 next. Defense sources indicated that the figure is likely to be close to 150 million.

In recent days, the scant footage available has shown on some European televisions images of US troops carrying out spectacular repressive operations in popular neighborhoods of Iraqi cities. Panicked faces of women and children. Men of all ages and walks of life who are pushed out of their homes and have their hands tied with zip ties and then driven in trucks to an unknown destination. Armored vehicles entering the dusty streets of the towns, helicopters flying low with their threatening machine guns, and infantrymen entering humble houses with violence brandishing all their military paraphernalia. One of pirates The Honduran Defense Ministry decided to call the expeditionary group sent to Iraq the Xatruch Battalion. Curious irony, if one takes into account that the designation recalls the Honduran general Florencio Xatruch, of Catalan descent, who in 1857 was elected to lead a force made up of Central American troops who acted in solidarity as the army of the Great Homeland to defend the sovereignty of Nicaragua. and face the pirates of the American filibuster William Walker. Xatruch fought with his small army against this precursor of North American policy in Latin America. Walker was finally defeated in the port of Trujillo, in the Honduran Caribbean. Before being shot, the American pirate asked for a priest and left his last words: "The war I waged against Honduras, at the insinuation of certain people from Roatán, was unjust. Those who accompanied me are not to blame. I am the only one to blame. . I apologize to the People. I receive death with resignation. I wish it were for the good of humanity! " Those North American pirates, at least ended up repentant and acknowledging their misdeeds. It's a shame that they have had so many descendants. * Carlos Iaquinandi Castro SERPAL editorial staff Alternative Press Service.

One of pirates

The Honduran Ministry of Defense decided to call the expeditionary group sent to Iraq the Xatruch Battalion. I wish it were for the good of humanity! "

Those North American pirates at least ended up repentant and acknowledging their misdeeds.
A pity that they have had so many offspring.

* Carlos Iaquinandi Castro
Drafting of SERPAL
Alternative Press Service.

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