Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Iraq, a National Guardsman, and "Nicaragua, Nicaraguita"

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía of the Florida National Guard turned himself into military authorities yesterday, the first Iraq war/occupation deserter to do so publicly, and claimed conscientious objector status. If you read the Washington Post this morning, you'll get nary an idea of exactly what led to this decision. The New York Times story was a little better on this front (and also noted the fact that he's the son of the famous Nicaraguan--and onetime revolutionary--songwriter, Carlos Mejía Godoy), but greater details about Mejía's experiences (as well as the larger issue of AWOL soldiers) can be found in yesterday's Chicago Tribune.

Second contingent of Salvadoran troops (380 strong) leave for Iraq in early February, La Prensa Gráfica

Also today, the Latin delegation of the "coalition of the willing" appears to be on the rocks, as Honduras announced that it would not renew its commitment to deploy troops in Iraq, once the tour of duty of the present contingent of 370 soldiers is up in August. Nicaragua pulled its troops out in February, citing lack of funds. Guatemala's newly elected President Berger also has said they don't have funds to send troops. You can expect El Salvador to stay the course, however--come mid-year, they may have the Ultra Plus Brigade, currently led by Spain, practically all to itself.

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