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The Netherlands planned U.S.-supported invasion of Suriname in 1986

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« on: November 20, 2010, 06:33:33 pm »

The Netherlands planned U.S.-supported invasion of Suriname in 1986

By BNO News | November 20, at 6:17 am

AMSTERDAM (BNO NEWS) -- The Netherlands was planning an invasion of Suriname in 1986 to arrest military dictator Desi Bouterse, according to former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers on Saturday, who said the United States supported the plan.

Although rumors about such plans have been going around for years, the statements reported by a Dutch newspaper on Saturday is the first real evidence of the war plans. "I'm surprised how long the existence of the invasion plan was kept secret," former Dutch Defense Minister Wim van Eekelen told 'De Volkskrant' newspaper.

'De Volkskrant' reported that the Netherlands had drafted a detailed plan in late 1986 to arrest Bouterse, who led the South American country as a dictator from 1980 until 1988 and was recently elected as the nation's president. If the plan would have been carried out, the Netherlands would have sent hundreds of troops with the support of the United States, which stood ready to provide Navy ships, planes and helicopters in support of the invasion.

The government of Lubbers had created the plans after a messenger from Suriname delivered a letter in October 1986 on behalf of three members of the Suriname government, including then-Prime Minister Pretaap Radhakishun. It appealed to Lubbers to intervene and arrest Bouterse.

"The Suriname request was aimed to remove military dictator Bouterse," said Dutch former Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek. "This does not mean that the possible Dutch military support had this only purpose. Our responsibility for the Dutch Surinamese also played a role."

Lubbers told the newspaper that the plan his government had created in 1986 would have sent at least 850 Dutch marines along with 16 helicopters to the region. Among their objectives was to take control of Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport, which is about 45 kilometers (28 miles) south of Paramaribo.

Aside from taking over the airport, other marines would have been dropped in Paramaribo where a special unit would have been instructed to arrest Bouterse at one of his hiding places, which American intelligence agencies had been able to find. If the plans had succeeded, Dutch troops would have stayed in Suriname for at least one month until security could be guaranteed.

The newspaper report did not reveal how closely the American government, which was headed by President Ronald Reagan at the time, had been working with the Dutch to create the plans. It did not say if the United States, aside from delivering ships, planes, and helicopters, was also planning to send U.S. troops to support the Dutch military.

Bouterse led a military dictatorship between 1980 and 1988 after he and a group of Army sergeants overthrew the democratic government. The years were marked by the 'December murders', in which 15 people who opposed the military rule were executed.

But Bouterse was recently elected as president of Suriname, which came as a disappointment to the Netherlands where he was convicted in absentia in 1999 for **** smuggling. The European nation has since said that Bouterse would only be welcome there to serve his eleven-year prison sentence.

The U.S. government, however, has expressed respect for the elections even though it saw the victory of Bouterse. "The United States supports democratic elections and processes, and we respect the results of free and fair elections," said U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on July 19, soon after the election results were announced.

"We look to maintain our good ties with Suriname and the people of Suriname, but we will be clear with the incoming Suriname government that, for good relations with the United States and the international community, we expect this new government to stand firm against corruption and respect democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law," Crowley added.

Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands in 1975.

(Copyright 2010 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info:

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