3 - Challenges to security in Central America and the Caribbean  pp. 45-59

Challenges to security in Central America and the Caribbean

By Peter Calvert

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In May 1987 there were 50,000 US troops in Honduras. As in each of the previous three years they were nominally there on an ‘exercise’. But these ‘exercises’ have in fact run end to end since 1983 so that the United States presence in Honduras has become continuous. What is striking about these forces is their number. They were over three times the total size of the Honduran army, and together with it the combined strength mobilized was for the first time roughly equivalent to that of the armed forces of neighbouring Nicaragua. During the same period the United States has also raised, armed and equipped an insurgent force (the ‘contras’) in Nicaragua and established a formidable naval presence off its coast. The Reagan Administration has claimed that Nicaragua poses a strategic threat to the United States and has made no secret of its desire to overthrow its government. The Nicaraguans, pointing out that the United States is a world superpower, say that they have built up their forces because they fear that it will invade them. Each, therefore, sees the other as the prime challenge to its national security.