By Erin Fitz-Henry
US army presence in twenty-first century in Latin the United States has lately been characterized via speedily intensifying militarization along under-supported anti-military activism. This publication redirects fresh debates approximately twenty-first century social mobilization by means of taking heavily those that actively face up to the social events of their midst.
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Additional resources for US Military Bases and Anti-Military Organizing: An Ethnography of an Air Force Base in Ecuador
Although claims about increased prostitution and other forms of sexual violence were occasionally made by human rights workers and other activists, they did not figure most prominently in their public repertoire of opposition. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, they were claims with which most local residents refused to engage—male and female alike rapidly dismissing them as either misplaced or exaggerated. Whenever, for example, I mentioned such charges on the part of activists, most residents quickly pointed out that there had always been prostitution around the base given the long-standing presence of the Ecuadorian armed forces on the coast.
Despite the fact that my interviews with city residents were significantly more numerous than those with military personnel, they were limited by a number of factors to which it is worth calling some attention. Most generally, it must be admitted at the outset that my sample was skewed toward relatively elite residents—people who had completed high school, many of whom had gone on to obtain whitecollar professions and who earned somewhere around US$500/month. Although I conducted research in some of the poorest barrios of the city (Los Esteros and Tarqui), I was never able to establish sufficient trust with the fishermen in those areas to make extensive visits possible, and furthermore, I remained unable, even with the help of a Portoviejan translator, to make coherent enough sense of the deeply accented coastal Spanish that is prevalent in such areas.
These caveats aside, what is offered in the pages that follow is most centrally an account of the circulation and reception of activist discourses among city residents and US military personnel that aims to show the processes by which those discourses—honed in the fires of traditional left strategizing—were deformed and re-formed by both nonactivist city residents and military personnel such that activists themselves came to be read as forces of occupation. At a time when the network of US bases in Latin America is not only f lexible and robust, but aggressively expanding, the effects of these deformations on local cultures and systems of meaning are in need of urgent exploration.