US Military Post In Ecuador Will Be Closed In November, According To Ambassador
By Dialogo January 23, 2009The 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.