Canada Joins U.S. Military Manoeuvres in Caribbean

HALIFAX (5 May 2006) -- Canada will join threatening U.S.-led military manoeuvres in the Caribbean between May 23 and June 15, news agencies are reporting.

Canadian forces will be part of manoeuvres ominously dubbed "Joint Caribbean Lion" in Curaçao and the French island of Guadeloupe. Some 4,000 soldiers from the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and France are to participate in the operation which will have its main base in Hato Rey (known in Curaçao under the name "location for cooperative security"). It is believed to be among the largest in recent years, using an aircraft carrier and naval fleet. It includes the participation of forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and countries in the hemisphere, except for Cuba and Venezuela, which could be the targets of that show of force, Prensa Latina and TML Daily report.

The nuclear aircraft carrier USS George Washington is leading the sea/air forces in the manoeuvres already taking place, dubbed "Operation Partnership of the Americas," and the strike group includes the guided-missile destroyer Stout and the guided-missile frigate Underwood, with about 6,500 sailors and -- if necessary -- two nuclear submarines.

The declared objective is supposedly to "foster goodwill" in military relations between the U.S. Navy and countries in the region, and to intensify efforts in the fight against drug-trafficking and terrorism.

With air reconnaissance flights, depth measurements and land analysis, the United States could be evaluating its possibilities of success for an invasion against a country in the area, regional analysts say.

The first intrusion of Canadian naval forces, under the command of the Royal Navy, was as part of the gunboat policy against the Mexican Revolution in 1915, a role repeated in 1932 against the uprising of the landless peasants of El Salvador.

The Canadian navy participated in "Exercise Ocean Venture" which rehearsed the invasion of Grenada.

In August, 2005 Canadian Forces participated in US exercises in the Panama Canal zone.

During the 1980s the anti-war movement in Halifax, under the banner of No Harbour for War, held annual protests against the Caribops exercises on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

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