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August 11, 2008 [LINK / comment]

Ecuador wants USAF out

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa is continuing his campaign of anti-American rhetoric, hoping to build domestic political support. His government's Foreign Ministry has informed the U.S. government that the lease on the air base at Manta will not be renewed next year, fulfilling on of his major campaign pledges. About 300 U.S. Air Force service men and women, presumably along with DEA agents, are stationed at the Manta air base, from which aerial sureillance and patrol missions are staged on a constant basis. The 10-year agreement will expire in November 2009. See BBC.

It is possible that Correa is just angling for a more lucrative lease payment, and if that's the case, it's probably worth a substantial increase in rent. We must face the likelihood that Correa is dead serious about his stated desire to throw the gringos out; he would lose face if he reneged on his pledge at this point. It's a similar situation to the Philippines, where the government of Cory Aquino in effect sent the Americans packing from Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Force Base in the early 1990s. Fortunately, the Cold War had just ended, and those bases weren't as valuable as they once had been. The U.S.-leased air base at Manta is a valuable tool in the fight against international narcotics trafficking, and losing it would mean a lot more cocaine reaching the U.S. market.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 11 Aug 2008, 4: 58 PM

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