Tags: biden | ecuador | pact | drugs | military | cartels

US Strikes Deal to Deploy Military in Ecuador

By    |   Friday, 29 September 2023 08:26 PM EDT

The Biden administration has forged confidential pacts with Ecuador, opening the door for the deployment of U.S. military forces, both on land and on the sea for the South American nation.

In grappling with drug cartels' pervasive influence in its territory, Ecuador hopes to collaborate with its northern ally to address security concerns.

Key members of Congress were apprised of these classified accords during a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill hosted by Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso.

During his visit to Washington, Lasso engaged in discussions with high-ranking officials from the State Department and formalized two agreements, as confirmed by Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, who participated in the meeting and shared insights with the Washington Examiner Thursday.

Crenshaw, who heads the congressional task force dedicated to countering Mexican drug cartels, underscored the significance.

"They were announcing and signing an agreement with the United States," he said.

The arrangement covers "status of forces and maritime law enforcement agreements." The maritime component grants permission for U.S. military vessels to operate in the waters off the northwestern coast of South America, a region frequently exploited by Colombian drug cartels for cocaine trafficking, a state spokesperson confirmed to the Washington Examiner on Friday.

The status of forces agreement outlines terms for foreign military members, like the Defense Department, operating in another country.

"That doesn't mean we're doing it, but it means we can, and it means that they're making a very clear signal to us that they want us more involved," Crenshaw said.

The signing ceremony saw attendees from the Defense Department and from the Department of Homeland Security's military branch, the U.S. Coast Guard.

The State Department asserts that this move will "strengthen cooperative law enforcement activities and build mutual capacity to prevent and combat illicit transnational maritime activity."

"There's just a river of cocaine [coming] up past the Galapagos Islands," said Adam Isacson, who heads defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America. "I think they're reestablishing more of a base at Manta base. We had a forward-operating base there in the 1990s."

In 2009, the U.S. completed the withdrawal of all its military personnel from the Manta base in Ecuador.

The Coast Guard partners with U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations planes for aerial surveillance, which look for unusual boating activity, with cutters providing response.

In contrast to the numerous status of forces agreements with NATO countries in Europe, such agreements are less common in the Western Hemisphere.

According to a 2012 analysis by the Government Accountability Office, the U.S. entered agreements with Costa Rica in 1983, Nicaragua in 1998, and El Salvador in 2007.

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

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The Biden administration has forged confidential pacts with Ecuador, opening the door for the deployment of U.S. military forces, both on land and the sea of the South American nation.
biden, ecuador, pact, drugs, military, cartels
Friday, 29 September 2023 08:26 PM
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