It’s a good t’ing !!
The U.S. Government has become accustomed over the last 60-80 years to going where it pleases, doing what it pleases, and using ‘foreign aid’ as a mechanism for buying out independent thought and sovereignty in other nations’ governments.
But little itty-bitty Ecuador just grew a pair. And their parody proposal is most excellent.
I used to provocatively ask folks how the U.S. (citizens or government) might respond if the Saudis, or others from countries where alcohol is illegal, paid Uncle Sam ‘buy-off’ money disguised as ‘foreign aid,’ for the right to use toxic and carcinogenic aerial spraying in order to eradicate our barley, wheat, hops, and other grain fields.. Do you s’pose it’d result in revolution and blood in the streets.. Ahhhh, you KNOW that it would..
Latin America: Ecuador President Jerks Washington’s Chain Over Manta Air Base
from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #507, 10/26/07
If the US wants to keep using a drug war air base in Ecuador, it must let Ecuador open a military base in Miami, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told Reuters in an interview in Italy Monday. Correa, a popular leftist leader, promised during the 2006 election campaign that he would never renew the 10-year lease for the air base at Manta, in northern Ecuador.
“We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorian base,” Correa said in Italy. “If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorian base in the United States.”
US officials consider Manta critical to anti-drug surveillance on Pacific drug-smuggling routes. The lease on the base, negotiated with a previous government, is set to run out in 2009. Correa said earlier that he would chop his arm off before he renewed the lease.
According to a US embassy in Quito fact sheet, over 60% of illegal drug seizures in the eastern Pacific in recent years resulted from intelligence gathered thanks to the air base. The fact sheet said that 15 permanent and up to 150 rotating US military personnel involved in anti-drug activities are stationed at the base at any given time.
The fact sheet sought to portray the base in the best possible light, even resorting to noting that the base’s “full-time Ecuadorian employees include persons with physical challenges whom the [base] is helping to integrate into the workforce through an innovative program” and that the base “provides financial support to multiple local charities in an effort to be good citizens and guests in Manta. US personnel help tutor English in a local community center and support charities including orphanages and a school for children with disabilities.”
But embassy PR wheedling notwithstanding, Correa is tapping into broad public resentment of the base, much of which is rooted in dislike for Plan Colombia and suspicion about what other uses the US could put the base to. Correa campaigned strongly against Plan Colombia in the 2006 election, as tensions between the neighbors heightened over US-backed aerial fumigation of Colombian coca groups and its impact on adjacent Ecuadorian territory.
“The nationwide position not to involve Ecuador in Plan Colombia is the first reason why Ecuadorians do not want the US military to remain in Manta,” Fredy Rivera, professor and researcher with the Ecuadorian branch of the Latin American University for Social Sciences, told ISN Security Watch during a recent interview. A second reason for Ecuadorian opposition to the base was suspicion over US plans, he said. “The surveillance equipment can be used to watch activity in Colombia, Peru, parts of Venezuela and Bolivia, and of course Ecuador,” Rivera said, adding, “this is official discourse.”
But even though Correa is refusing to renew the base’s lease and has publicly called President Bush a “dimwit,” he rejected the idea that rejecting the base should hurt US-Ecuadorian relations. “This is the only North American military base in South America,” he said. “So, then the other South American countries don’t have good relations with the United States because they don’t have military bases? That doesn’t make any sense.”