National Assembly committee demands answers about U.S. military surveillance flights

Jan 9, 2020 | 12 comments

Following the resignation Tuesday of Ambassador to the United States Francisco Carrión, the National Assembly’s Committee on Sovereignty is demanding information about U.S. air surveillance of Ecuadorian territory.

Ecuador Foreign Minister Jose Valencia

Committee members say they are in the dark about any agreement governing the flights and voted unanimously to call Foreign Minister José Valencia, Defense Minister Oswaldo Jarrín and Carrión to answer questions.

“We know nothing about any agreement between Ecuador and the U.S. regarding the surveillance and, by law, the Assembly must approve such agreements,” Fernando Flores, committee chairman said on Wednesday. “We want answers and have asked the officials to appear before the committee no later than Wednesday, January 15.”

The issue of U.S. air surveillance surfaced after Carrión’s resignation, which he says was prompted by the lack of a signed agreement governing the flights. “I complained on several occasions to the foreign ministry that the flights were being allowed while negotiations were in progress,” the former ambassador said. “There are no rules in place to limit the scope of the surveillance and I am concerned that the sovereignty of Ecuador could be violated without them.”

Although he did not dispute Carrión’s claim, Valencia defended the flights, which he said were for the purpose of drug interdiction in the Pacific Ocean. “We have other agreements and understandings with the United States government about the missions,” he said. “The Ecuadorian police and military work in close proximity with U.S. personnel and are always fully apprised on the details.”

Flores agreed with Carrión that there may be sovereignty violations. “Given the U.S. history of involvement in Ecuador and Latin America, we need to be certain about the details of this work and the limits and conditions placed on it. We look forward to hearing from the government,” he said. “We understand the importance of fighting illegal drugs but this must be done through proper channels with full transparency.”

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