Handover of Panama Base Hinders Anti-Drug Efforts!

Handover of Panama Base Hinders Anti-Drug Efforts!
Posted by FoM on May 30, 1999 at 07:13:23 PT
Source: Washington Post
The turnover of a U.S. military base to Panama earlier this month has left a gaping hole in American counter-drug efforts in Central America and the Caribbean, forcing the Clinton administration to scramble for new facilities that can be used to track drug shipments from South America.
All U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Panama, formerly headquarters for the U.S. Southern Command, by the end of the year under terms of the Panama Canal treaties. On May 1, Howard Air Force Base was turned over to Panama, depriving the United States of a base for 22 surveillance aircraft and causing a sharp drop in anti-drug coverage of the region.To maintain a presence in the area, the Clinton administration has hastily negotiated a short-term agreement with the Netherlands to station aircraft at the airports in the Dutch Caribbean protectorates of Aruba and Curacao. It negotiated a similar agreement with Ecuador to station airplanes in the Pacific coast city of Manta.Washington is seeking a third such agreement in Central America and, to that end, is currently negotiating with Costa Rica. All of the new airfields, however, will require substantial improvements -- including new maintenance facilities and housing -- that will cost more than $100 million, Pentagon officials said.Click the above link to read the whole article!
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