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The Obama administration will pump upwards of $110 million into a new U.S. Embassy compound in Suriname, a South American nation whose population of 580,000 is equivalent to that of Wyoming, the least-populated U.S. state.
Jay Anania, U.S. ambassador to Suriname, said last year during his Senate confirmation hearing, “It is very much in the United States’ interest that Suriname remains a stable democratic partner.”
Anania’s new living quarters will be part of a new 57,000-square-feet chancery building planned in the capital, Paramaribo. The ambassador has recognized Suriname “as one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse countries in the world.” He lauded the nation for holding in 2010 its “fifth consecutive free and fair national election.”
Anania failed to mention, however, that Suriname’s then-new leader, Desi Bouterse, is a former drug trafficker and alleged killer of 15 political opponents.
Amnesty International in recent months reported that the families of the slain “journalists, lawyers, professors, businessmen, soldiers and labor union leaders”still seek to bring Bouterse and others to justice 30 years later.
Bouterse had been tried for the alleged slaughter, but the trial was suspended, and the National Assembly passed an amnesty law that continues to thwart his prosecution.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is focusing on how the U.S. can benefit from this “land of significant natural resources, from bauxite and gold to untapped petroleum reserves,” as Anania, formerly the management counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, described Suriname during his confirmation hearing.
According to the recently updated Suriname page of the CIA World Fact Book, its economy is dominated by the mining industry, with exports of alumina, gold, and oil accounting for about 85 percent of exports and 25 percent of government revenues.
Anania had told the Senate, “Free trade is a key part of the economic engine that drives progress and growth, and it is in our interest to increase our trade and economic ties with Suriname.”
According to a Request for Proposals that WND located through routine database research, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations is prequalifying potential contractors for Phase One of the embassy project.
In addition to the spacious living quarters and new diplomatic business space, the compound will include maintenance shops, a vehicle maintenance facility, warehouse, recreational facilities, perimeter security, parking and roads.
The document noted that contractors selected for the first phase without subsequently being chosen for Phase Two each will be compensated an additional $25,000 by the U.S. government.
The compensation is justified, the document says, because the contractors otherwise will sustain burdensome costs related to unnecessary site visits to Suriname.
The U.S. provides little direct aid to Suriname, though it does provide counter-narcotics and military training to Surinamese troops and police through the Department of Defense and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Like many nations in recent years, direct U.S. assistance has decreased. Whereas the U.S. funded $650,000 in programs for Suriname in fiscal-year 2010, the Obama administration’s is now proposing $225,000 for fiscal-year 2013.