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US Military Post In Ecuador Will Be Closed In November, According To ‎Ambassador

By Dialogo
January 23, 2009

The US drug enforcement military post that the United States has kept in the ‎Ecuadorian base of Manta (west) for ten years will be closed next November or earlier, ‎said Heather Hodges, the American ambassador at Quito. ‎ ‎ The diplomat said that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa did not renew the agreement ‎for that US unit (FOL) to remain in Manta. In fact, he ordered its withdrawal. ‎ ‎ ‎FOL was established in Ecuador after a controversial agreement which ceded a part of ‎the airport of the coastal city of Manta to establish a US military post aimed at ‎controlling drug trafficking in the region. ‎ ‎ ‎“Our stay in the FOL is certain to end in November,” Hodges said, and insisted that the ‎Ecuadorian government “has requested that we leave, and we respect that decision.” ‎ The ambassador added: “We will leave by then, or perhaps earlier. We will see.” ‎ Today the diplomat visited the US military contingent in Manta. ‎ ‎“We are evaluating the exact order in which things will be arranged. There are elements ‎‎(in FOL’s installations) that will remain there, and others that, due to our policies, we ‎will have to take with us,” the diplomat said. The Ecuadorian President requested the withdrawal of FOL from Manta, as that unit has ‎not been beneficial to the country, and because he presumes that the base was used for ‎purposes other than those it was created for. ‎ ‎ Ecuadorian human right groups and international affairs analysts have warned that ‎Manta’s FOL has been used to support the Colombian government in its battle against ‎guerrillas in that country, as well as the prevention of illegal immigration into the ‎United States. ‎ The Ecuadorian government suspects that the base supported the military operation of ‎last March 1st, when airplanes and Colombian troops launched a surprise attack on a ‎secret camp of FARC rebels located in a section of the Ecuadorian jungle.‎ Although American authorities have denied such presumptions, Ecuador is investigating ‎alleged flights of American planes, which would have departed from Manta hours ‎before the attack. ‎ Said operation provoked a complaint from the Ecuadorian government, which two days ‎later broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia, a situation that remains unchanged ‎at present.‎
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