MIAMI, Fla. — The U.S. military is preparing for a massive wave of migrants from the Caribbean as part of a multi-million dollar training drill at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The exercise this month, called Operation Integrated Advance, is scheduled to last all of March, cost around $2.5 million and involve 400 troops as well as personnel from the State Department and Department of Homeland Security, The Miami Herald reported. The military is keeping the operation secret and denying the media access to it.
The idea is to prep for a migrant crisis in which hundreds or thousands of Cubans or people from other nations cross the ocean to the United States.
“This year’s exercise scenario focuses on a potential mass migration in the Caribbean,” a statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reads. “The primary objective is to protect the safety of life at sea and to deter mass migration using organic DHS forces reinforced by other federal, state, and local assets and capabilities.”
During the operation, troops will practice rescuing, capturing, processing, housing and taking care of migrants.
US Expecting Refugee Crisis?
Guantanamo Bay is a U.S. Navy base that is technically on Cuban soil. In 1994 the Clinton administration interned hundreds of Cuban refugees at Guantanamo Bay, and more recently captured terrorists have been imprisoned there.
It is not known if the drill is tied to a potential increase in deportation of illegal immigrants during the Trump administration.
Another possibility is that the Pentagon expects a complete collapse in Venezuela.
Venezuela’s government is almost out of money, CNN reported. The South American nation has only $10.5 billion in foreign reserves, which are used to buy food and medicine. Venezuelans are already dealing with 800 percent hyperinflation, empty grocery shelves and food riots. Last year some Venezuelans got so desperate they started butchering zoo animals for meat. Earlier reports indicated that people in Caracas were eating cats and dogs.
Terrorists From Venezuela?
That might drive thousands of Venezuelans to get on boats and head to Florida. Caracas is on the northern coast of the country and just south of the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
There is a good reason why the military wants to intercept such migrants. The Venezuelan government may have issued passports to people with ties to terrorism, CNN reported.
Venezuelan diplomats in Iraq sold large numbers of passports for cash, Misael Lopez – the former legal adviser to the Venezuelan Embassy in Iraq — told CNN. Lopez is now living in Toledo, Spain, because he’s afraid for his family’s safety.
Lopez said that Venezuela’s Ambassador to Iraq, Jonathan Velasco, was one of those selling passports.
“He gave me an envelope full of visas and passports,” Lopez said of the ambassador. “He told me, ‘Get this, this is one million U.S. dollars.’ I thought it was like a joke. Then he told me here [in Iraq] people pay a lot of money to get a visa or a passport to leave this country.”
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