Ecuador fights US infiltration

April 19, 2008

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa shook up the establishment in early April after forcing the resignation of defence minister Wellington Sandoval, the military Chiefs of Staff, and the countries police chief amid accusations that the military and intelligence organisations were infiltrated by, and under the control of, the CIA.

Among those accused was the army intelligence chief, Colonel Mario Pazmino, who has been linked with White Legion, a far-right group that has issued death threats against journalists, human rights activists and social movement leaders.

The scandal broke out only 6 weeks after the Colombian military illegally bombed and raided Ecuadorian territory on March 1, attacking a camp of the left-wing guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

In the aftermath of Colombia's attack, news began to surface about US involvement in the attack, and the prior knowledge of some sectors of the Ecuadorian military.

The US currently holds a lease to the Ecuador's Eloy Alfaro Military Air Base, at Manta, which has been used to assist in Colombia's spraying of coca crops in the border region.

Correa has repeatedly insisted that the lease, which ends next year, is an unconstitutional violation of sovereignty and will not be renewed. The Ecuadorian government has commenced proceedings against Colombia in the International Court of Justice, claiming that the spraying is causing birth defects, cancer, and environmental damage.

The prospect of US infiltration of Ecuador's military and state apparatus raises the spectre of Colombia's internal conflict spilling into Ecuador — not to mention the role of the US and CIA in backing coups, dictatorships and crimes against humanity across Latin America.

However, it also indicates Washington's frustration, as Latin America turns to the left on a wave of popular reform led by left-wing governments that are increasingly challenging Washington's hegemony in the region — and seeking to replace it with a system based on social, economic and environmental justice.

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