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LAS AMERICAS I, \(f ‘t War on Terrorism Mexican thy’lei Li’ BY JOHN ROSS 0 n September 7, 2001, President Vicente Fox went before the Organi zation of American States in Washington, and startled the White House by announcing Mexico’s withdrawal from the 1947 Rio Treaty on Reciprocal Assistance, a bulwark of U.S. cold war policy in Latin. America. Labeling the “obsolete,” Fox argued that extreme poverty, human rights abuses, environmental degradation, and natural disasters now present a greater threat to the continent’s security than Communist revolution. The Mexican president’s timing could not have been worse. Not a hundred hours later, Islamic terrorists flew three hijacked jetliners into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Towers slaughtering thousands of U.S. citizens, and George W. Bush proclaimed the War on Terrorismin which the TIAR would have a role to play. Last month, during a meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados, the OAS transformed the reciprocal assistance treaty into an anti-terrorism pact. Since 9/11, President Fox’s vision of continental security has taken a 180degree turn. The Mexican president quickly digested the Bush doctrine that “you are either with me or with the terrorists” and cast Mexico’s fortunes with Washington, despite cries from political opponents that Bush’s war was not Mexico’s war and that Washington has a long list of enemies that are not the enemies of Mexico. Collaborating with Bush’s war on terrorism makes Mexico vulnerable to similar attack, warns Marti Bartres, the left-center Party of the in the Mexican congress. Nonetheless, Fox and his foreign minister Jorge Castalieda have attached themselves to Washington’s anti-terrorism strategiesalthough at each step of this slow march to subservience, they have vehemently denied doing so. One area in which Mexico’s role in Washington’s terror war has been particularly evident has been the integration of its military assets in a common security plan. This past April, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of NorthCom, the Northern Command, the first military command ever initiated to defend the United States inside its own territory. Not only will NorthCom be responsible for defending the continental United States from terrorist attack, but its protective shield extends to Washington’s “perimeter of security” or “confidence zone,” which takes in Alaska, Canada, 500 miles into both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, the Caribbean and Cubaand Mexico. Although Rumsfeld and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow rushed to point out that formulation of the Northern Command did not necessarily mean the military annexation of Mexico’s armed forces, the prospect of the U.S. and its two NAFTA trading partners integrating land, sea, and air capabilities in a single military command under the Pentagon’s direction has concerned Canadian and Mexican citizens fretting about national sovereignty. If this scenario flies, Mexico and Canada will become the 51st and 52nd stars on Washington’s flag, writes Carlos Fazio, a transplanted Uruguayan whose book The Third Link is a basic text in understanding U.S. plans for PanAmerican military integration. In a series of recent articles published by Mexico’s left daily La Jornada, Fazio expanded on that basic text. Item: In November, just two months after 9/11, Mexico became a member of the Conference of Latin American Armed Forces, another U.S.-directed Cold War mechanism designed to facilitate interchanges between Latin military men and the Pentagon, that dates back to the 1960s, Mexico had stood outside the conference for 40 years, attending only as an observer, until it finally came in from the cold this fall. The conference acts as an auxiliary to the Summit of Latin American Defense Ministers, first assembled in 1995 in Williamsburg, Virginia, an event that Fazio argues was crucial to the forging of “The Third Link.” Item: This February, Mexico violated long-standing traditionand probably its Constitutionby participating in joint military maneuvers with the U.S. and other Latin American naval forces. Although Constitutional Article 76 forbids Mexican troops from operating outside of the nation’s territorial limits, hundreds of members of the Mexican Navy aboard the Abasolo, a guided missile-carrying frigate, took part in the 43rd UNITAS \(“United International Colombia’s Pacific coast. Under the direction of U.S. Southern Command Admiral Kevin Green, Mexican, Colombian, Chilean, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and U.S. naval vessels fired torpedoes and test missiles at each other in what Mexico’s Navy Secretary Admiral Marco Antonio Peyrot described to the press as “peaceful” war games the Mexicans were even gifted by U.S. crews with an experimental missile to try out. The fact that these “peaceful” games 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7119/02