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Latin Amercian Generals in Ottawa!
Coming to Ottawa this Spring - Three events in one!
(2) military/aerospace trade show and
(3) National Capital Air Show.
This spring, the Canadian Air Force has the dubious "honour"
of hosting a gathering of the highest ranking air force
generals from virtually all of the countries of Central,
South and North America. Their organisation is called
CONJEFAMER and its 38th annual meeting will be held in
Ottawa at the end of May and the beginning of June, 1998.
To coincide with the CONJEFAMER conference, the National
Capital Air Show (NCAS) will be held May 30-31. The NCAS,
which glorifies and romanticises military aviation, will
also be holding an aerospace/military trade show to exhibit
and promote Canadian high technology. NCAS organisers, and
exhibiting companies, are hoping that their military trade
bazaar will benefit from the presence of key military
personnel from throughout the Americas.
These events present all of us who are interested in peace,
human rights, development, labour and solidarity with Latin
America with an obvious challenge. What are we going to do?
Everyone on the left who has ever studied, travelled or
worked for Latin American causes knows the central role
which militaries, and often air forces, have played in
squashing peace, social justice and democratic rights in
Unfortunately, no one in the progressive movements seems to
know anything about CONJEFAMER. (If you do a search in the
internet, you'll find that the only people talking about
CONJEFAMER are the CONJEFAMER people themselves.) Having
learned about this organisation though my work to oppose the
air show, I feel a rather weighty responsibility to let
others know about it. Having two dozen or so air force
generals from Latin America in Ottawa certainly presents us
with a unique opportunity to raise public awareness. I am
hoping that there are others out there who are interested in
doing something to oppose CONJEFAMER, the military trade
show and the air show.
Last year the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
called for a boycott of the air show. We got the support of
a numerous national and local organisations on this. We
also got permission to have a display inside and set up a
booth with dozens of paintings done by Iraqi children.
Were considering trying to do the same this year with paintings by
children from Central and South America, showing what war
and particularly air forces have done. Such an exhibit of
paintings from El Salvador and/or Guatemala, already exists.
The human toll of war planes is lost at air shows where the
main objective is to have fun watching the damned warplanes.
Please joinus in putting a human face on war.
What the hell is CONJEFAMER?
CONJEFAMER is the Spanish acronym for the Conference of the
Chiefs of the American Air Forces. It is a little-known
organisation which brings together the "highest military
authorities" from the Air Forces of 24 countries of North,
South and Central America.
CONJEFAMER is the decision making body of another little
known organisation called SICOFAA, which stands for the
System of Cooperation among the American Air Forces. The
official language of CONJEFAMER is Spanish, although
predictably it is dominated by the United States and has
always had its headquarters on a US air force base.
The main purpose of SICOFAA is to: "promote and strengthen
the bonds of friendship prevalent in the Air Forces of the
American continent, members of the System, as well as to
achieve the mutual support among them through their
cooperation to act jointly when directed to do so by their
Currently, there are 18 voting members of CONJEFAMER:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia,
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States,
Uruguay and Venezuela. There are also six non-voting
members: Belize, Costa Rica, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and
CONJEFAMER has met annually since its formation in 1961.
Predictably enough, the idea to gather the Commanders of
the American Air Forces into this organisation was the
brainchild of the United States military. In particular,
the idea is credited to General Thomas D. White, then Chief
of Staff of the US Air Force. As stated in their web site,
the formation of CONJEFAMER occurred at a time when
“democratic nations of the world were aligning themselves
against the spread of communism and potential Soviet
Each year, CONJEFAMER’s annual forum is hosted by the air
force of a different country. They get together to discuss
a variety of issues regarding "the future of air power and
cooperation." Besides holding "meetings and discussions,
members of CONJEFAMER [also] participate in joint
At the fourth CONJEFAMER conference in 1964, which took
place in Brazil, the Peruvian Air Force: "took the
initiative to consolidate the feelings, aspirations and
philosophy of the sister American Air Forces, and made a
proposal in a briefing. This presentation asked for the
creation of a voluntary organisation of mutual professional
relationships [which] came to be known as the System of
Cooperation among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA)"
The Secretary General of SICOFAA's Permanent Secretariat is
always a "US Air Force Colonel, bilingual (English -
Spanish), selected by the Chief of Staff of the US Air
Force, and confirmed by the Chiefs during CONJEFAMER."
(Sounds about as democratic as one might expect from such
The Plot Thickens: Global Air Chiefs' Conference
As if the convergence of military power within this
organisation was not enough, last year's CONJEFAMER in Las
Vegas, Nevada, marked the beginning of an even larger
organisation called the Global Air Chiefs' Conference. At
this event, "eighty-one air force chiefs from around the
world met with the US Air Force Chief of Staff. It was the
single largest such meeting in history." The theme was
"Air and Space Power in Coalitions and Bilateral
Relationships into the Twenty-First Century." It had three
main goals: "(1) To support the US National Security
Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement by building
relationships with other militaries. (2) To honor the
fiftieth anniversary of the US Air Force.(3) To provide
the first-ever world-wide gathering of air chiefs."
Former US President, George Bush was one of the speakers at
this event. He congratulated the US Air Force on its
fiftieth anniversary and said that "for 50 years, you have
been freedom's shield, ever vigilant in defending our
precious way of life, ever ready to bear perilous burdens
in the struggle against evil. And so, for your courage and
sacrifice, I salute you; and for our nation, I wish you
every continued success. God bless you."
With the blessings of God, and his loyal servant George
Bush, not to mention the "air power" afforded by countless
weapons of mass destruction, the world is surely now on the
road to peace and democracy.
Air Show and Military/Aerospace Trade Show 1998
The 1998 National Capital Air Show (NCAS) has been
deliberately scheduled for the weekend of May 30-31 so as
to coincide with the CONJEFAMER meeting. This will likely
benefit the NCAS in at least two major ways.
(1) There may be military aircraft from numerous Latin
American countries here in Ottawa for that event. The NCAS
may be planning to incorporate demonstrations of these
aircraft into their air show.(This is great for those who
love to gawk at machines of death, horror and destruction,
but it's an affront to those concerned about the
devastation wreaked upon those struggling for peace and
(2) The presence of top ranking military officers from all
of the countries of the Americas will be a boost to the
military industry trade show which is being organised as
part of the NCAS. Last year, for the first time, the NCAS
added an industry exhibition to promote aerospace
(including military) companies. If the NCAS can attract
the top brass from CONJEFAMER to attend their trade show,
they will also be more likely to ensure the presence of
military and aerospace exhibitors who will be keen to show
off their wares to these bona fide military buyers.
Anyone interested in helping to do anything to counter
these events should please contact me,
Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade
Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
COAT, 489 Metcalfe St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 3N7
Tel: (613) 231-3076 Fax (613) 231-2614
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