U.S. military undermines L.A. democracy

A report published last week by human rights groups argues that U.S. military aid and programs in Latin America are a threat to democracy in the region.

"Erasing the Lines" was prepared by the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, the Center for International Policy and the Washington Office on Latin America.

"The lines separating military and civilian governance roles, firmly drawn by many Latin American governments after decades of conflict and military dictatorships, are being erased both in U.S. policy and in the region," the report stated.

U.S. military aid to Latin America has shot up in  recent years.

The Bush Administration has encouraged Central American governments to expand the role of militaries  in domestic affairs and to use them to combat problems such as drug trafficking, street gangs and terrorism.

Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolaños , one of Bush’s closest allies in the region, recently parroted Administration requests to the Miami Herald when he called for a regional military to “tackle common threats and…crises abroad.”

The report also considers the bloody history militaries have had in the region and the need for further reforms.