Each year US marines perform one of these exercises in Honduras.
I asked them to conduct an exercise in La Mosquitia and another in the sector of Colon, said President Hernandez.
We are finishing the planning and it is the obligation of the US government to help us with the consequences and prevention of all the problems caused by drug trafficking in the country, he stated.
Last week authorities of both countries announced that a US Navy hospital ship would dock in Honduras soon.
In addition, the Head of the Ministry of Defense Samuel Reyes recently confirmed that the United States asked Honduras to take in the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force South, that would consist of 250 soldiers.
This new unit would be located at the base of Palmerola, located in Comayagua 86 kilometers from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa and future site of the “New” International Airport slated to replace the Capital city of Tegucigalpa’s “Toncontin Airport”, and would have at least four heavy helicopters, a modern high speed catamaran, as well as other resources and high precision weapons.
The news was met with mixed responses. Some political parties in Honduras, such as Democracia Cristiana, Partido Innovación y Unidad, and Partido Anticorrupción welcomed the presence of US troops in Honduran territory due to the urgency of dealing with drug trafficking and the need for international cooperation to tackle the issue. Others, like Partido Liberal and Partido Libre, criticised the possibility of the US meddling in Honduran affairs. “We don’t agree with this sell-out policy, with warring purposes,” said Partido Libre’s Rasel Tomé.
Although the time frame to carry out these operations has not been confirmed, the US Marines are expected to arrive in Honduran territory on the second half of the year.
The US embassy in Tegucigalpa had requested permission from the Honduran government last week to bring in troops into the country “as part of our collaboration on issues related to natural disaster preparedness, as well as our work in the ongoing fight against drug trafficking and organized crime.”
The US has a strong military presence in Latin America, with ten officially recognized military bases. Six of these are located in the Caribbean and Central America —in Aruba, Curaçao, Cuba, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras— and four in South America. There is also a strong military cooperation in Colombia, where US troops use seven bases that belong to the Colombian army. Last month, Unasur Secretary General Ernesto Samper raised the need to do away with US military bases in the continent, which he considered to be remnants of the Cold War.