It is because of the strategic importance of South America that the United States has stationed troops there. Official American interest in the region is usually dated from the Monroe Doctrine of 1823.
That line of thought was intended to halt recolonization by European powers, but has increasingly been used to justify American intervention in the region.
During the Cold War, president John F. Kennedy used the Monroe Doctrine to fight communism in Cuba.
Nowadays the Monroe Doctrine is not being used to justify an American presence south of that country’s borders. The excuse today is narcotraffic.
A study by the Brazilian Army in 2002 shows details about the locations of American military personnel in South America and asks a question:
"Will these armed forces that ring the border of Brazil, especially in the Amazon region, eventually be used for reasons that are presently undeclared?"
A retired professor at the University of Brasília, Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira, who has studied the US for over 50 years, says the American presence is a cause of concern to him.
"These bases allow the Pentagon to continue getting enormous budgets. Because of the industrial-military complex, they need to use their military equipment so they can order more. It is a vicious cycle," he says.
Last October, Brazil and Uruguay complained about the possible construction of an American base inside the Mercosur region in Paraguay.
The government of Paraguay denied the construction of the base. However, Paraguay does have an agreement with the US for joint military exercises in the so-called Triple Border (Tríplice Fronteira) area where the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet.
Under the terms of the agreement, US and Paraguayan forces may engage in joint exercises between now and the end of the year (2006). The US has similar military agreements with other countries on the borders of Brazil.
Click the following Internet address to see more information in the form of a map from the Brazilian Army report on US troops in South America (information in Portuguese): www.radiobras.gov.br/especiais/euamerica/mapa.php
The map is updated with data from the Moniz Bandeira book, "The Formation of the American Empire."