What is Behind the Entry of US Troops and Weapons Into Peru?
Misión Verdad, Orinoco Tribune, June 5, 2023 —
On May 31, the Peruvian government authorized the entry of US military personnel into the country by air and sea with weapons. According to Dina Boluarte’s de facto administration, the purpose would be to carry out cooperation and training activities with the Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police.
Legislative Resolution No. 31758 states the following:
“The entry into the territory of the Republic by military personnel from the United States of America is authorized, with the purpose of carrying out training cooperation activities with the Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru, from June 1 to December 31, 2023, within the framework of what is established in numeral (8) of article 102 of the Political Constitution of Peru in accordance with the specifications and objectives indicated in the appendix that forms an integral part of this legislative resolution.”
A quick overview of the arrival of the US military in Peru indicates that they will be in Lima, Callao, Loreto, San Martín, Santa Lucía, Huánuco, Ucayali, Pasco, Junín, Huancavelica, Cusco, Ayacucho, Iquitos, Pucusana and Apurímac. They will carry out training activities with the Peruvian Armed Forces in connection with the Resolute Sentinel 2023 International Military Exercise and within the framework of bilateral cooperation.
However, the local context, the latest political and social events in Peru, the meetings between the leaders of the region to consolidate an autonomous South American political bloc, and the establishment of major trade agreements between China and South American countries are immovable factors that account for the United States’ interests in that piece of the Andes, beyond the obvious.
Firstly, we must point out the controversial nature of Dina Boluarte’s government. It has become a political crisis that has added to the situation already being experienced in Peru. Her arrival to power was marked by a context that resulted in the coup against President Pedro Castillo. Since then, there has been intense repression against the population, leaving at least 50 dead, thousands injured, and tens of thousands detained to date.
The strong repression against a large part of the social sectors that have mobilized on a national scale, transferring from different parts of the country to the capital, sparked the rejection of some South American leaders, but not from the United States. A few days after the questioned government was installed, Boluarte received the support of United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who, according to the Foreign Ministry, reiterated his country’s support for Peru and “its will to continue strengthening the nurtured bilateral relationship.”
Total support was “for democratic institutions” and the actions to deal with what they called a “social outbreak,” which reflects that it did not matter that the population was being brutally repressed and confirmed that the Boluarte government was a reliable ally.
“Of course, we recognize the Peruvian president, Dina Boluarte, and we will continue to work with the democratic institutions of Peru. We look forward to working closely with President Boluarte and the Peruvian state,” Ned Price, now-former spokesperson for the US State Department, declared in December 2022.
Everything points to the fact that the United States does not want to lose an important piece of what they consider their geopolitical “backyard,” one of the port hubs of the Pacific axis. They will do everything necessary to avoid losing ground of influence in the region, especially as some countries attempt to promote integration platforms with geopolitical projection. It is also evident that they are responding to China’s progress and large investments to continue deploying the Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the New Silk Road, throughout the world.
It should be noted that one of the exercises will be carried out in Lima and Callao, locations where the most important ports in that country are located and where the port of Chancay is being built. The port of Chancay is the largest in Peru and is being built with Chinese capital, an investment that has not been well regarded by the Pentagon for interfering with its interests in the region.
Why is Chancay so important? With 11 berths with the capacity to receive ships of up to 9,000 tons, the megaport constitutes a commercial gateway through the Pacific Ocean for merchandise from Asia. Given its location, it would also be an important port where raw materials from the region would leave for the Asian continent. For example, lithium, a mineral that has received worldwide attention because it is vital for the new technological productive chains being built.
The border region of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, called the “lithium triangle,” concentrates 68% of the world’s mineral reserves. According to recent studies, Bolivia has 30% of the world’s lithium reserves, followed by Chile with 21% and Argentina with 17%. The metal market is evidence of the way power relations have shifted on a geopolitical scale in the past two decades, as the central economic powers of the 20th century—the United States, Germany, Japan, France—”see each other more and more lagging behind and dwarfed by the strong dynamism in South Asia and especially that generated by China,” the report states.
Let us remember that the United States intends to develop a sort of “metallic NATO” with which it could control, via extraterritorial militarization, the dynamics around the lithium and other metal markets in the aforementioned “triangle.” The training of the Peruvian troops and police by the Pentagon could have a strategic intention, establishing its political, economic and geostrategic interests as prerogatives for the advancement of bilateral relations with Peru, a country with a state held hostage between different kinds of political and social crises and coups.
Although it is not the first time a US military contingent has entered Peru. Since 2015, over 3,500 soldiers have entered to cooperate and “fight” against drug trafficking and insurgent groups. Everything indicates that they would be covering two fronts with this new entry. On the one hand, to collaborate with security forces to maintain the stability that the Boluarte government desperately needs and, on the other, to try to establish itself as a dominating and “deterrent” factor through weapons in the region in the face of China’s advancement and possible regional integration.