Are U.S. Taxpayers Funding Empire Building With Costa Rica?

Michael Edwards

One would think that America is experiencing Boom Times with the way their government is throwing around money lately.  The recent announcement that a flotilla of warships and troops will be sent to Costa Rica would ordinarily be laughable for its wastefulness, but with America experiencing an unemployment rate north of 20% and the median duration of unemployment at the highest in the last 50 years, this should be no laughing matter.

Many Americans do not know much about Costa Rica, its history, or its current political landscape.  It might be worth knowing exactly how and where American tax dollars are being spent.  Here are some basic facts about Costa Rica:
  • Costa Rica is a democratic republic with a very strong system of Constitutional checks and balances.
  • Costa Rica does not have a military; it was abolished in 1948.
  • Recent president, Oscar Arias, was a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1987.
  • Costa Rica consistently ranks as one of the happiest places on Earth according to many polls, including the first ever “happiness poll” conducted by Gallup, where it was determined to be #1 in The Americas.
In other words, Costa Rica’s lack of a military culture has been enshrined, and is part and parcel of their overall happiness.  Forty-six warships, 200 helicopters, and 7000 troops being sent to patrol the coastal waters of Costa Rica sends the world a false message that Costa Rica is in some way needy of this massive loan of the American military.  Furthermore, the entire region is moving away from neoliberalism, and toward solidarity, in an attempt to build a sovereign Latin America. 
We have to assume that Costa Rica’s welcoming support of the American military is likely to fan regional tensions, at the very least.  Or, could that be the reason itself for such a move?  In a comprehensive article by Mark Vorpahl, writing for Global Research, he points out that such an excessive amount of military in order to “combat drug trafficking” or “offer humanitarian aid” to a country the size of Rhode Island can hardly be justified in and of itself.  Much more likely is that this is regional in scope and is a U.S. intimidation force, rather than a humanitarian mission.  
Vorpahl asserts that the U.S. is determined to return to the Monroe Doctrine principles which led to the overthrow of popular governments throughout Latin America.  He states the results:

Therefore, the U.S. Empire builders could use their political and economic might alone to subjugate these neo-colonies to a very profitable neoliberal agenda. This agenda included allowing U.S. corporations easy access to pillage these nations’ public sectors through privatization, letting multi-national corporations overrun these nations’ local markets and farms through the elimination of trade barriers, and increasing the exploitation of their workers and the devastation of their natural resources by tossing out national labor and environmental standards. Because of the profits enjoyed by a few as a result of these measures, they carried the day, though they, in turn, created a simmering spirit of rebellion in the semi-colonies’ peasantry and workers that would inevitably find expression.

It is true that Costa Rica is in a precarious geographical location amid other historically less peaceful (and much poorer) nations, but this is nothing new.  It seems that the most likely scenario is that America would like to take the Drug War show to a new area of the high seas, and they have found a convenient headquarters for operations.  Geopolitics notwithstanding, the financial cost to America should be noted.  America is already embroiled in two major wars; has military bases all over the planet; and has a true disaster spreading along its own coast, not to mention the elephant in the living room of a looming second Great Depression.

As a frequent visitor to Costa Rica, I can only add that if the Costa Rican government is allowing its country to be the staging ground and corporate headquarters for empire building in Latin America, they should be called on it.  If the Costa Rican people decide to abandon their dedication to peace, and the absence of a military, by allowing this violation of their sovereignty and Constitution, they are truly misguided.
Polls show that most Americans do support spreading the idea of democracy, but do not agree with empire building.  If the American people do not voice their outrage over this, and the abject wastefulness of their tax dollars during a time of more pressing crises, they are again proving to the world who really has the power in America.

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