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article imageEcuador to allow US military planes to use Galapagos airport

By Ken Hanly     Jun 18, 2019 in Environment
Reports claim that the Lenin Moreno administration of Ecuador has agreed that US military planes can operate from an airport in the Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador's defence minister said to have made the announcement
A recent BBC article reports: "US aircraft will be able to use San Cristobal airport, Ecuador's defence minister Oswaldo Jarrin has been quoted as saying. They will "fight drug trafficking" under a deal with Ecuador's government, Mr Jarrin said.
The Galapagos Islands are 906 km (563 miles) west of the coast of Ecuador. They are a UNESCO heritage site renowned worldwide for its unique array of plants and wildlife made famous first by Charles Darwin. Tourists from around the world travel to the Galapagos to observe its biodiversity.
Deal concerns environmentalists
Environmentalists are concerned about the impact that the military activity might have on the sensitive environment. There are also concerns about Ecuador's sovereignty. The new Moreno government has been friendly to the US. It allowed the UK to have Julian Assange arrested by the police. Assange had taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for about seven years. He faces extradition to the US.
The aircraft involved include a Boeing 777 and a Lockheed P-3 Orion, Latin American media outlet Telesur reports.
Ecuadorean lawmakers also express concerns
Legislators in the Ecuadorean parliament have asked Jarrin and Marcelo Mata the environment minister to indicate the scope of co-operation with the US in the use of the islands. They also want information on the proposal to extend runways at the San Cristobal airport from which the US planes will operate. Marcela Cevallos a legislator said the US plans would alarm conservationists.
Carlos Viteri a member of the opposition claimed the agreement with the US was "unacceptable" and should be prohibited if it ceded an in inch of Ecuadorean territory.
Ecuadorean constitution prohibits foreign military bases
Article 5 of Ecuador's constitution says the country is a "territory of peace" and goes on "the establishment of foreign military bases or foreign facilities for military purposes shall not be allowed".
Rafael Correa, the former president, also tweeted an angry reaction to the effect that the Galapagos were not an aircraft carrier for the US. However, Mr. Jarrin assured his critics that there would be no permanence of anyone on the islands and noted that any modifications to the airfield would be paid for by the US. Jarrin said: "Galapagos is for Ecuador our aircraft carrier, it is our natural carrier, because it assures us permanence, replenishment, interception facilities and it is 1,000 kilometres from our coasts." The US Dept. of Defense has not commented as yet.
More about Ecuador US relations, Galapagos islands, us air force
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