The Galapagos Islands archipelago in Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse regions in the entire world, home to a number of species found nowhere else on the planet, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
So, naturally, the U.S. military wants to use one of its islands as an airstrip.
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Ecuadorian defense minister Oswaldo Jarrín announced President Lenín Moreno’s administration’s decision to allow the Pentagon to expand an existing airfield on San Cristobal Island for U.S. spy planes targeting drug traffickers in comments to Telesur on June 12. The airport is at the southwest end of the island in the city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
According to The Independent, “a U.S. air force Boeing 707 plane carrying radar surveillance and a Lockheed P-3 Orion plane will patrol the Pacific Ocean, using the Galapagos as a launching off point.”
The Ecuadorian National Assembly isn’t sold on the proposal. In a vote on June 13, El Universo reported, 106 of the assembly’s 137 members cleared the way for calling on Jarrín and environmental minister Marcelo Mata to appear before the chamber’s Commission of Sovereignty and International Relations.
Carlos Viteri, an assembly member from the southern region of Sarayacu, Pastaza, and a member of the Revolución Ciudadana party, said that allowing the U.S. to operate off of the airstrip was “vassalage.”
“What is being proposed by the government through the Ministry of Defense is unacceptable,” Viteri told El Universo, “and the fact that it intends to cede an inch of Ecuadorian territory should be prohibited.”
In his remarks, Jarrín said that the Galapagos Islands are a “natural aircraft carrier because it ensures permanence, replenishment, interception facilities, and is 1,000 kilometers from our coasts.”
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