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What are U.S. Marines Doing in Peru?

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Machu Picchu, Peru (photo ToddAdams.net)

There’s a theory that when U.S. mainstream news starts running stories about a foreign country, it’s because the U.S. is planning on invading that country. Since I’m a permanent resident of Bolivia, friends in the U.S. ask me what’s going on in the Andes.

They tell me that Peru has been mentioned many times recently in the U.S. news. In just the last day or so a lot of articles about Peru were in the U.S. press. Here’s a small sample: An article about food in Peru appeared in a Las Vegas newspaper. NPR reported on infant mortality in Peru. And the Washington Post ran a story about a corrupt Peruvian military official.

Friends ask me, is the U.S. preparing to invade Peru?

To try and answer their question I started asking around and keeping my eyes and ears open. At the People’s World Conference on Climate Change, which was held October 10-12 in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, I heard a Peruvian delegate say how distressing it is having U.S. soldiers in Peru.

U.S. military in Peru was news to me, so I searched online for articles. I found that, yes indeed, the U.S. has sent over 3,000 Marines to Peru, and the Peruvian people are marching in protest.


Peruvians march in protest of 3,677 US Marines entering their country. Photo: teleSur / Rael Mora

News agency teleSUR correspondent Rael Mora suggests that the Marines may be in Peru to destabilize democratically elected presidents in the region (such as Evo Morales, the President of neighboring Bolivia).

The teleSUR article reported that protesters “drew attention to the history of U.S. military presence and its deadly consequences, including its involvement in massacres, torture, disappearances, and other human rights abuses. Many of Peru’s more than 70,000 disappearances during the country’s so-called ‘war on terror’ counter-insurgency strategy between 1980 and 2000 have been seen as part of the U.S.-backed Operation Condor, which saw dictatorships quash rebellious voices and leftist movements throughout the continent.”

US Marines train Peruvian military to suppress citizens

US Marines train Peruvian military to suppress citizens (Photo: Rob Curtis/Staff, Marine Corps Times)

The Spanish language website defensa.com, dedicated to “Armies, weapons, technology on the web,” ran a lengthy article describing the movements of the U.S. Marines in Peru.

The Marine Corps Times says that U.S. Marines are training Peruvian military to violently suppress the Shining Path, citizens who have a different vision for the people than their government does, yet have used violence in pursuit of their goals, like their government. However, a 2012 Reuter’s article reports that the Shining Path has changed its violent ways and is instead using theatre and school clubs to build solidarity among people who are harmed by neoliberal policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

The article reveals that “security documents reviewed by Reuters show the armed forces think Movadef (the political arm of Shining Path) and leftist groups have stepped up protests to sow disorder as part of a ‘common goal: vacating the presidency through a coup by the masses,’ like demonstrations that brought down leaders in Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina over the last decade.”

Will U.S. news soon be filled with stories comparing the Shining Path to Isis, as an excuse to wage war in the land of Machu Picchu?

Do the U.S. Marines in Peru have any connection to protecting the business interests of MMG’s gigantic Las Bambas mine in Peru, to open in 2016 despite protests that left four dead and 16 seriously injured last month?

The mine, located at 4,000 metres in the south of Peru, is set to deliver 400,000 tons of copper per year during the first five years of production placing it within the top three copper mines globally (mining.com).

The mine, located at 4,000 metres in the south of Peru, is set to deliver 400,000 tons of copper per year during the first five years of production placing it within the top three copper mines globally (mining.com).

Time will tell.

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About Lynette Yetter

Lynette Yetter is the author of the books "72 Money Saving Tips for the 99%" and "Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace, a novel." Lynette is a permanent resident of Bolivia and a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Reed College.
  • Barbara Donachy

    Unfortunately I have to say that I am not shocked by U.S. Marines
    in Peru. The U.S. military has and has had a presence in so many countries. I am surprised though as I had not heard anything about this. Kudos to the author for bringing this into the light and for writing such an interesting, informative and well-researched article.

    I agree with the hypotheses presented in the article—the
    Marines are there to destabilize democratically elected presidents in the
    region (who are not our buddies) and/or protect mining interests. I’m glad to
    see that people are resisting.

    For many years, I have been involved with the efforts of
    Denver Justice and Peace Committee to raise awareness about and protest the
    activities of Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation in Cajamarca Peru.
    Newmont operates the largest gold mining site in all of South and Central
    America (18 football field long)—one that has caused displacement
    and environmental degradation, particularly water contamination of streams and
    rivers, for local, largely indigenous populations. Now, Newmont is planning for
    a second mega mine. Reportedly, protests
    have been suppressed by governmental and private security forces.

    Wouldn’t it just be something if the Marines were there to
    protect the rights of poor people and democratically elected leaders? Wouldn’t
    that be great.

    • Lynette Yetter, author

      Dear Barbara,

      Thank you for letting us know about the important work you, and others, are doing to protect our Mother Earth and indigenous people who are suffering from the actions of U.S.-supported transnational businesses. My heart feels happy imagining the future you articulate, where the U.S. Marines would be deployed to protect the rights of poor people and democratically elected leaders.

  • Lynette Yetter, author

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7aacPtEI8s&sns=em This recent documentary reports that in the past eight years, 250 people in Peru have been killed in protests of transnational mining corporations and other social environmental conflicts. How does this relate to what 3,677 U.S. Marines are doing in Peru?