U.S. Military Advisers May Be Sent to Peru
The Bush Administration plans to send military trainers to Peru to help the Peruvian military deal with drug traffickers and guerrillas involved in producing and smuggling cocaine, the New York Times reported in today’s edition.
Citing senior State Department sources, the newspaper said the dispatch of more than 50 advisers, including Green Berets and Navy personnel, reflected an emerging view that Lima is losing control of its Andean mountain provinces to drug barons and rebels of the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement, who protect the traffickers.
The paper said the Administration plans to make the new aid program public once details are worked out with Lima. It will mark the first substantial contact between Washington and the Peruvian army, known for its poor human rights record, in over 20 years.
The officials said President Bush had no intention of sending the trainers anywhere near combat, but quoted Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Bernard Aronson as saying:
“You can’t have a serious counter-narcotics program if you write off the largest cocaine-producing state and if you won’t help the Peruvians provide security for counter-narcotics efforts. Peru desperately needs our help.”
Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and his high command agreed in July to outlines of a $34-million U.S. military program for Peru to include the training of two combat battalions, creation of a river patrol force and refurbishing of army helicopters and air force combat jets, the newspaper said.
The trainers’ departure is expected within the next few months, the paper said.