On May 27, the Paraguayan National Congress signed an agreement with the United States that allows U.S. military personnel to train, work, and operate in different regions of the country for a period of 18 months. Within weeks the first U.S. troops began to arrive.

Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte said on August 30 that the U.S. government will never have a military base in Paraguay. But a visit by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to the South American country last August (16-18) and Paraguay’s decision to grant legal immunity to U.S. personnel on its soil have stirred the fears of its neighbors that a longer term U.S. military operation may be imminent. For now, the U.S. military plans to send some 400 U.S. troops there before the end of next year.

Lieutenant-Commander Alvin Plexico, speaking for the Pentagon, claims that U.S. operations in Paraguay are only temporary and restricted to training activities and humanitarian missions. The purpose of the U.S. presence in Paraguay is