Tags: Ecuador | US | diplomacy | military

Ecuador Expels US Officers, Cancels Military Program

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 05:30 PM

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has ordered all US military officers to leave the country by the end of month and canceled a security cooperation program with the Pentagon, US officials said on Friday.

"At the request of the government of Ecuador, our bilateral security cooperation programs in Ecuador are currently coming to a close," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told the Agence France-Presse in an email.

The defense program had to be shut down by the end of April, he said.

An American Embassy official in Quito had earlier said Ecuador had demanded 20 U.S. Defense Department personnel leave the country, and Ecuadoran officials had said they had until the end of the month to depart.

The move is the latest setback for U.S.-Ecuador relations, which have been strained since Correa entered office in 2007. His government has expelled American diplomats and rebuffed a trade deal with Washington, while accusing the United States of imperialist ambitions.

The United States respects Ecuador's right as a "sovereign" nation to expel the U.S. military staff, but regrets that the move "will severely limit our bilateral cooperation on issues related to security," Jeffrey Weinshenker, a spokesman at the American Embassy in Quito, said.

He added: "The Ecuadoran government has made clear that it no longer wants this security assistance. The US government is reducing our security cooperation programs and moving those assets to another location."

U.S. military assistance over four decades in Ecuador had included technical training and had helped counter drug-trafficking, human trafficking and transnational crime, according to US officials.

The expulsions make good on a months-old threat by Correa to drastically pare back the presence of U.S. military officers and staff in Ecuador, citing concerns about U.S. "espionage" and "American imperialism."

Quito in January said it wanted to reduce the number of U.S. military staff on its territory, and also warned it would not allow American "espionage equipment" on its soil.

Prior to the expulsion orders, there were about 50 American military staffers in Ecuador, according to officials in the Ecuador government.

Correa said he became aware of what he described as a bloated U.S military presence in his country after learning that four Pentagon personnel were aboard an Ecuadoran military helicopter that came under fire in October near the border with Colombia.

Bilateral relations also were damaged by the controversy over U.S. electronic surveillance of foreign governments, which was brought to light by fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

In 2009, Correa refused to renew a lease that had allowed U.S. forces to operate out of Manta, an important base for its counter-narcotics efforts in South America.

In 2012, the Ecuadoran president angered Washington when his government granted asylum at its embassy in London to Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, which published a trove of classified US documents.

 

© AFP 2017

 
1Like our page
2Share
TheAmericas
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has ordered all US military officers to leave the country by the end of month and canceled a security cooperation program with the Pentagon, US officials said on Friday.
Ecuador, US, diplomacy, military
470
2014-30-25
Friday, 25 Apr 2014 05:30 PM
Newsmax Inc.
 
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved