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‘No foreign bases on the Galapagos’: Moreno attempts to clarify U.S. use of island airstrip

Claiming his intention is to leave a legacy of “peace, sovereignty and national security,” President Lenin Moreno pushed back Tuesday against charges he is allowing the United States to establish military operations in the Galapagos Islands.

A U.S. Orion P3 surveillance aircraft.

“There are not and there will never be foreign military bases in our country,” the president said in reaction to charges from supporters of former president Rafael Correa that he was caving in to U.S. pressure. “We will zealously preserve and protect the Galapagos Islands. The project of aerial surveillance to combat illegal fishing and drug operations is a joint activity of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia with the assistance of the U.S. It is a project to care for our world heritage.”

Moreno added that Ecuador’s constitution prohibits foreign military bases and he has no intent of violating the restriction.

Moreno’s Twitter account comments responded to a Monday statement by Ecuador Defense Minister Oswaldo Jarrín that the Galapagos were a “natural aircraft carrier” for air reconnaissance operations. Earlier Tuesday, Jarrín had walked back the claim, admitting that the aircraft carrier characterization was “unfortunate” but blamed “enemies of the government for spreading lies.”

Both Moreno and Jarrín provided additional information of the U.S. use of the San Cristóbal airport. According to a statement released by the defense ministry, the U.S. Orion P3 and the Awac aircraft will use the airport for two to three days a month only for refuelling purposes.

According to Jarrín, the aircraft currently operate from the airports at Manta and Guayaquil under an earlier agreement with the U.S. “Allowing the use of San Cristóbal provides a broader surveillance area in the fight against illegal activities,” he said.

He added that the U.S. will pay for airport lighting as part of the use agreement since some aircraft refuelling will occur at night.

Ecuador  Foreign Minister José Valencia rejected claims by Correa that the U.S. flights would cause environmental damage to the islands. “There will be about 3,200 flights by large commercial jets to the Galapagos this year,” he said. “The suggestion that two flights a week by small aircraft will harm the environment are totally bogus and totally political.”

35 thoughts on “‘No foreign bases on the Galapagos’: Moreno attempts to clarify U.S. use of island airstrip

    1. US Customs has more aircraft, guns and boats than the armed forces of most South American countries.

          1. Odd eh? They never seem to look anything up..even a google! That can only stem from a deep reluctance to see their beliefs confronted. From that point of view, the refusal to research is a protective mechanism. Belief is a deeply emotional thing. Facts are merely facts.

    1. And despite being $3.5 billion more than Correa borrowed in 10 years, we still haven’t seen a single project built. I suspect like all IMF loans, that money will never leave US banks. It will end up in the accounts of all the current politicians who will be living in Miami after their ousted.

      1. Jason,
        Forgive me, but you too often attribute to corruption what simple stupidity can explain. T’is true that Ecuador has a template of corruption, part of its unwanted cultural heritage and to be expected..Stupidity and corruption are equally destructive but at least corruption is curable, stupidity isn’t.

        1. When the government borrows $11 billion in barely two years, while at the same time fires thousands of government workers, slashes healthcare and education budgets, and yet still has nothing to show for it (not even paying down the debt), it’s reasonable to suspect that the money is being stolen. I don’t think Moreno is stupid at all. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing. The infuriating part is it isn’t what the people voted for. When he leaves office, all we’ll have to show for it is a crumbling infrastructure, dilapidated public services, billions in profitable public works projects sold off for pennies on the dollar, and twice as much debt as when Correa left office.

          But apparently Correa still controls the media because we haven’t heard a peep about any of this from them in 2 years. They went conspicuously silent in July of 2017. Even Nebot and Lasso have uncharacteristically found nothing to criticize about Moreno’s handling of the economy. I guess that makes sense given that Banco de Guayaquil’s profits have nearly doubled in the past 2 years (despite the constant shouts that the economy is in crisis) and Nebot’s tax bill has been cut in half.

          So yeah, corruption for sure, but I don’t think they’re stupid. Clever as a fox as the old saying goes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Moreno stood up from his wheelchair and ran for the helicopter when he’s ultimately run out of town. Everything about him turned out to be a lie.

          1. ..”it’s reasonable to suspect that the money is being stolen…”

            With respect, Jason, I can’t agree. My experiences suggest otherwise. (I was in the insolvency field for a time. a consultant and representative to creditors. Big stuff allowing me to see the world, [in more ways than one!])

            Everyone arrives at the first Meeting, screaming for blood, positive they have been illicitly bilked by fraud. But it is always stupidity at the bottom of the losses, aside from the last minute traditional stealing those in control do when they see the ship sinking.

            But who cares? The damage caused by stupidity is far more deadly and frequent than that caused by fraud. (shrug) And deals can be made with evil people. Making deals with stupid ones changes nothing.They’ll still be stupid after the deal is made.

            Is Moreno that different from other leaders in most countries? (ugh!) Admittedly Correa was very beneficially effective for a time, but why continue to back a leader who has a deficit in so many hearts both here and abroad? Makes no political sense. I don’t buy all the commetns made here about him but an honest intelligent, properly trained unknown would start with a bigger advantage.

            1. GT – U Said, “Is Moreno that different from other leaders in most countries? (ugh!)”
              I say, “Leaders… ugh.”
              Get over it. ‘Leaders’ don’t lead, they steal.
              End of story. Every govt story.

              1. When they come from a culture that expects them to steal. or like the USA, has a system that forces them to steal, you are right. But that is not “every”. Your post states what you want to believe to make you feel a bit less ashamed.

  1. The Chinese loans also had strings attached, more like ropes. Nothing is free, as we all well know.

    1. Using one bad thing to excuse another doesn’t make much sense does it? The USA made Moreno give too much..it is humiliating for this nation who wants so much to be proud of itself. When too much is demanded, and given to someone at the cliff’s edge, it always comes back to haunt. History has always shown that, a good deal for one side ends in conflict or a betrayal. In negotiation, when I saw one side, even my own, had benefited too much, I would back up and start over again.

      1. A guaranteed share of Ecuadorian oil. The building of mega-projects without a complete transfer of the technology that keeps them running. MIning and resource concessions that were not always carried out kindly. China works with such stuff in return for loans.

        But the benefits of dealing with them over the USA are apparent to any who wish to open their eyes. What has the USA always offered? miltiary bases, assassinations, mass murdering, environmental disasters. invasions, sanctions, tariffs, name-calling, altered history,…..

        1. Ecuador was doing oil presales long before they did them with the Chinese. In fact, they just did another one with Taiwan 2 months ago. Not sure what “technological transfer” Ecuador was supposed to get to run the hydroelectrics. All the engineers running the things are Ecuadorian. Was China supposed to teach Ecuador how to manufacture turbines?

          The largest mining project in the country is Canadian. I’m not sure what Chinese mine you’re referring to. Maybe you can elaborate.

          As for the loans, the combined interest of the $11 billion in loans Ecuador just received from the IMF is 9.25%. They threw in a couple $100 million loans at 5% so the press could tout the great deal, but most of the loans were actually at 9.75%, 1.75% more than the worst rate they were getting from China. In return they had to sign a deal the government still refuses to disclose, but that leaked information has revealed including privatizing all the profitable public works projects like the hydroelectrics, slashing public services like schools and healthcare, and raising the retirement age to 75. Did the Chinese ever require anything in return for a loan other than interest?

          It seems to me that all this racist dog whistling about the fear of the yellow horde has worked. We’re taking poorer deals and calling it progress. Meanwhile, China isn’t basing their planes in Ecuador, the US is.

          1. I am not arguing substantives with you Jason. But you seem to see things in black or white..when they are always shades of grey. And you know me well enough that merely comparing different extents of evil to justify anything is inane. Your credibility suffers unnecessarily and I don’t want that. For example, if you are suggesting that China couldn’t care less about oil engagements at better prices, you do nothing to help the cause.

            And yes, I appreciate the differences in interest rates..but do you have the details of the oil commitments to China in hand. That will tell you the real story. For that matter, interest rates have been rising everywhere, except in the USA where it is politically vital to keep pumping the economy, despite the damages to the already battered western world.

            No, I have concluded that China does not help other nations because of its dear sweetness of character. Some of their stuff is less than stellar. But the Chinese are seeing much farther into the future than the current USA administration even dreams of. They have no wish to create future conflicts. The huge Pence/Trump list merely sets up the US for an hostile reaction here in a few years. They should read history more closely, like the Chinese do. .

            As for the incident I was referring to, forgive me, I let that unfortunately slip. I SWORE to the people who told me I would not reveal any details and feel an ass that I mentioned anything. So merely chalk it up to an old man’s instinct that the Correa/China relationship was not always kind to Ecuadorians.

            Nonetheless, I would still choose China over all others. There doesn’t seem to be “less bad” options that could be viable, mores the pity.

            1. I never suggested could care about future engagements or that they help other nations out of the kindness of their hearts. I merely pointed out that they have offered Ecuador better deals than the US ever did.

  2. Whenever I drove from NYC (east) to Pittsburgh to visit relatives, I’d occasionally go out of my way (south 785 miles) to ”refuel” in Kiawah Island, S. Carolina.

    Sure, if you believe that, then you’ll believe the fantasy Moreno & the U.S. military are spinning.

    Well, you MUST…otherwise, you’re an ”enemy of the State”.

    Welcome to the return of the Banana Republic.

    1. The drug traffickers don’t follow the route that is the easiest and fastest they use the route with the least amount of obstacles and policing

      1. Yeah, those routes are the millions of shipping containers crossing the globe every single day.

      2. and one of the tasks is to look for illegal fishing and wasn’t there a chinese boat caught recently off the Galapagos coast with thousands of kilos of illegal catch ? having refueling near where the chinese boats hang out makes sense right ? Jason Faulkner will never criticize china though because he is closer to their communist philosophy. chinese boats are illegally fishing all over the world

        1. The Ecuadorian navy doesn’t need anyone’s help catching illegal fishing. The Chinese boat you refer to is now a cargo ship for Isabela Island and the crew is sitting in prison in Latacunga. The owner has been sued for tens of millions of dollars.

          I’ll add you to the list of people who know nothing about me but feel compelled to mention me in their posts. I’m glad you all find me so fascinating. At least it gives you something to do in your golden years. I realize that for boomers, socialism and communism is the same thing, but those of us still young enough to reproduce didn’t spend our entire lives being spoonfed BS propaganda by the military-industrial complex. I only take solace in the fact that biology is making your fact-free worldview obsolete. Society progresses one funeral at a time.

      3. The easiest and fastest route IS the one with the least amount of obstacles and policing.

    2. You refueled in Kiawah Island, SC, too? Because we went to college in Pittsburgh, we often drove from NYC to Pittsburgh. One year, on our way to the Orange Bowl in Miami, we really did refuel in Kiawah Island.

  3. Here we go AGAIN the Militant Correista faction and the anti US camp blowing this out of proportion and twisting it to make it sound like a few stops a month is a big problem. Meanwhile ignoring the fact that there are bigger troubles with the war on drugs.

    If you have ever had a family member, friend, or friend of friend hooked on drugs and see the struggles they are facing trying to get off this addiction then you would understand how devastating it is to the entire family.

    Spinning our wheels and constantly nagging about the US is not helpful and changes the focus. We should be concentrating on decreasing the drug trafficking rather than wasting our time blaming the US.

    We have an acquaintance in Ecuador that has a 14 year old son hooked on drugs. She sent her son to detox which she barely has money to do so. She choose to use what little she has for money on helping her son rather than pay for her electricity bill. The drug problem is in Ecuador as well as the rest of the world.

    1. Ecuador shares over a thousand miles of jungle border with the two largest drug producing countries on the planet, yet the bases are all on the coast.
      How is an airbase in Galapagos going to prevent the 14-year-old son of your neighbor from having access to drugs? What is this base going to be able to accomplish that the 9 in Colombia and the 8 in Peru couldn’t?

      Don’t worry, we all know you won’t answer either of those questions.

      It’s sad to see how easily manipulated some people are by emotional anecdotes and sob stories about some kid they don’t even know to the point that they are completely incapable of recognizing that the policy they’re advocating for is a complete waste of time and money and a complete trampling of national sovereignty. After 50 years of this failed War on Drugs ™, most intellectually honest people are capable of admitting it didn’t work. The fanatics double down on the failed policy because they’d rather see hundreds of thousands of people dead across Latin America than just admit they were wrong all this time.

      The funny thing is we all know that if it were Correa advocating this policy, you’d be firmly against it.

  4. Moreno is a disgusting liar. He sold out to the U S A when he took the 10 billion dollars from them. Now the U S A has him doing what they want. He’s no better than Correa.

    1. Actually, look closer. 10 billion didn’t come from the USA. They merely allowed it to happen. But it very much a USA deal. One-sided. Humiliating. Deeply planted seeds for future conflicts. No honor in it for anyone. Soverienty given up. a betrayal of asylum, a revival of US miltary presence on Ecuadorian soil in the most renowned heritage site on the planet, etc, We are only missing the Ecuadorian purchase of useless obsolete US military junk. Correa did MUCH better with LESS with China.

      1. do any of the chinese constructions function well with the money that was borrowed to pay for them ? the refinery and the hydro plants ? correa should have paid for the extended warranty … lol

        1. It is the way of the world. The USA lends them money to buy over-priced obsolete weaponry from them. Give me a broken hydro=electric plant instead any day. The only way that the USA can encourage re-orders is to forster conflict. Who cares what they call it…Afghanistan, the War on Drugs..does it matter?

        2. The Chinese didn’t build the refinery.

          The hydro plants are all performing exactly as planned in the original engineering workup and are in fact exporting electricity to Colombia, bringing in nearly a billion dollars per year for Ecuador.

          Why do so many people have so many opinions on so many things they know so little about.

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