By Marta Sanchez, Global Exchange Costa Rica Program Officer

As you might know, Costa Rica, a country bound to its ideals of anti-militarism and pacifism, is ready to break its tradition of neutrality, which started after the army abolition in 1949. Our territory is now about to become virtually occupied by the US military, under the alleged reason of a war against drug dealing and the submissive approval of the Chinchilla administration.  It is obvious that the implications of this tragic decision jeopardize our peace, given the examples of Colombia and Mexico.

The most regrettable is that many Costa Ricans applaud this decision. No doubt, insecurity and fear have permeated Costa Rican society “successfully,” and the images of mutilated bodies and executions have become magnificent propaganda weapons to justify this occupation. So it is not surprising that many “ticos” are willing to sacrifice their sovereignty naively, ignoring that behind this shameful occupation lays a very different war…

We all know that the drug dealing business is immensely sophisticated and permeates all political and social spheres. So, suspiciously enough, neglect of the poor, for example, may also be part of macabre calculations by those in power. The truth is drug dealing has become a “solution” to poverty, in many cases.

So, there are reasons to suspect the so-called war against drug dealing is a farce, at least in countries like Colombia, Panama and now, Costa Rica. To start with, as far as the main market in the First World stays surreptitiously untouched, this war will never end. Therefore, to even think that US military occupation in our countries has something to do with this war is naïve. One thing is the previously agreed upon joint Coast Guard patrols between the US and Costa Rica, and another is the introduction of US military machinery, more adequate for military intervention than for fighting drug dealers.

So, isn’t it possible that the presence of the US military in Costa Rica under the pretext of the “war against drug trafficking” is just hiding another war, a more conventional one, one against those countries and peoples in South America that have dared to disobey and defy the Manifest Destiny?  Just in case, the Costa Rican government has submissively offered, once more, our territory, to ring a bell upon the subverted ones. I just hope us Costa Ricans are able to show more dignity.

Marta Sanchez serves as Global Exchange’s Program Officer in Costa Rica, where she is also a university professor and activist on issues of social justice and human rights. As a sustainable development advocate, Marta had campaigned against the Central American Free Trade Agreement and continues to speak out on issues of environmental justice. She also organized against the June 2009 coup d’etat in Honduras, and as of late, she has been working to increase awareness on the US militarization of Costa Rica.