QUITO – Ecuador’s Defense Minister Patricio Zambrano told EFE that no foreign military bases will be allowed in the Andean country, where the constitution expressly bans their presence on national territory.
“There can be no foreign military bases in our country – it is prohibited by our constitution,” the minister said when asked about the dismantling of the base at Manta in the northwestern province of Manabi.
The subject about whether some US contingent could be allowed to operate in Ecuador, as had been the case up to 2008, is an issue some local media have raised because of the political contacts the two countries have resumed, following years of very distant relations during the previous Rafael Correa government.
Another reason for the question was that after last month’s attack in the town of San Lorenzo by suspected drug traffickers apparently linked in the past to the FARC when it was still a guerrilla group, the FBI took part in the investigation.
Zambrano said in response that Ecuador is always in favor of cooperation between people and countries, but “cooperation with due respect.”
He added that “one thing is having foreign bases on our territory and another is having international support and the collaboration of other countries, which are welcome.”
In mid-September 2009, Ecuador considered it a “triumph of national sovereignty” taking total control of the Manta air base, from which the United States had rolled out regional anti-drug operations for 10 years.
The pact that allowed the US to use that base was signed in 1999 by the Ecuadorian president at the time, Jamil Mahuad, for a six-year period.
Correa, who became president of Ecuador in 2007 and governed for 10 years, said in that same year that he would not renew the pact with Washington for the use of the air base, which was later dismantled.