Analysis of U.S. Military Contracts in Latin America and Caribbean
By John Lindsay-Poland
Despite persistent reports of serious corruption and human rights abuses by the Honduran army and police, the Pentagon increased its contract spending in Honduras to $53.8 million in Fiscal Year 2011, up by 71% from the previous year. President Obama’s budget also proposes increased assistance to the Honduran military in the 2013 foreign aid budget administered by the State Department.
Much of the Pentagon contract spending in Honduras last year – nearly $24 million – specifically names work on the Palmerola U.S. air base, known as Soto Cano, according to contract data posted on usaspending.gov and compiled by FOR. Contracting, Consulting, Engineering (CCE), a construction firm in Annapolis, Maryland, was awarded a $15 million contract last August to build new troop barracks at Soto Cano. CCE earlier received a $26 million contract from the State Department’s drug war bureau in FY2011 for work in Colombia.
The U.S. military also spends money on periodic exercises that are supposed to be for training of visiting U.S. forces. These are not counted in foreign aid totals, but they are being used in Honduras both to give training and to leave behind constructed facilities for Honduran forces.These exercises can also be used to benefit local elites, including those involved in the Honduran coup. A four-month exercise scheduled to begin on March 12, known as “Beyond the Horizons” is a case in point.
Beyond the Horizons will include “Exercise Related Construction” on a Honduran infantry battalion base in Naco, Cortes, according to a contract solicitation posted by U.S. Army South. Earlier contracts showed U.S. construction of bases in Caratasca (on the Atlantic coast) and Guanaja (in the Caribbean), in addition to the larger Soto Cano presence.
U.S. Military Construction/Activity in Honduras & Guatemala, 2009-2012The solicitation showed that U.S. military engineering units will be shuttling to and from “Micheletti New Construction” for the Naco base work. Roberto Micheletti was made president by the 2009 coup when Honduran armed forces took sitting president Manuel Zelaya out of the country (after stopping at Soto Cano).
A National Guard engineering unit based in Cape Girardeau, MO will participate in Beyond the Horizons, which will lasts until July 15.
The Defense Logistics Agency on February 14 posted a solicitation for fuel deliveries to U.S. Air Force units at three locations in Honduras, including Naco, Mocoron, and Aguacate. Fuel is to be delivered to Naco every 7 to 10 days, indicating continuity of either some U.S. military operations or support to Honduran units. Mocoron in southern Honduras, not far from the Nicaraguan border, is the site of a U.S. Army tropic test site, hosted by a Honduran infantry battalion.