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Constituent Assembly bans all military bases on Ecuador

10.04.2008

Following NO BASES CONFERENCE in 2007 attended by LALIT,CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY BANS ALL MILITARY BASES ON ECUADOR Political victories are rare on the question of military bases, so we must celebrate those we do have. Here is an important 'First'. After the founding conference of the NO BASES NETWORK was held in Quito, Ecuador exactly a year ago, with its 400 delegates from 40 countries, and after its Caravan down the Andes stopping for public meetings all the way, and after the protest march to the US base at Manta on the coast, the National Assembly in Ecuador on 1st April, 2008 has voted to ban all military bases and installations. You will remember that Lindsey Collen of LALIT was part of the events in Quito. In fact, she was given 'citizenship of honour' by the Mayor of Quito, which she accepted in the name of all the delegates from abroad and outside Quito.Below is a one-page document prepared by LALITs colleagues in NO BASES from the Ecuador Coalition Against Bases. CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY SAYS 'NEVER AGAIN' to MILITARY BASES The National Assembly that is writing a new Constitution for Ecuador approved the following article on April 1, 2008: 'Ecuador is a territory of peace. No foreign military bases or foreign installations for military purposes may be installed. No national military bases can be granted to foreign armies or security forces.' This is a triumph not only for organizations such as the Ecuador No Bases Coalition that have proposed that this article be included in the Constitution, but also for the global movement for the abolition of foreign military bases. This also, of course, also affects imperial strategy that seeks to control the Latin American and Caribbean region.

When the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases was formed in Ecuador in March 2007 with more than 400 activists from 40 countries struggling against bases in their own countries, nobody imagined that one year later we would share such good news. During the Conference, the negative impacts of such bases on sovereignty, democracy, nature and human rights, especially indigenous peoples, women and children, were discussed. The article approved today in Ecuador clearly provides space for hope to the people and organizations that demand sovereignty, self-determination and dignity in the world.

In Ecuador, since the agreement for the use of the Manta Base by the United States was signed in 1999 for a ten-year period, many organizations have been demanding that the US military personnel abandon Manta. Since President Correa assumed office in 2007, he has insisted in his committment not to renew the Agreement that ends in 2009. This position has been supported by the Ecuadorean people. However, in the last two weeks, the mayor of Manta, right wing Jorge Zambrano, has declared that he will call a referendum for the people of Manta to decide on the renewal of the Agreement. According to the Regional Foundation on Human Rights (INREDH), 55 percent of the population in Manta is against such renewal. Youth and other organizations have expressed their strong opposition to this proposal, considering that this affects not only Manta, but that this is an issue of national sovereignty and Ecuadoreans have taken their position. However, with the article approved today, there is no bases for the Mayor‘s proposal, since it clearly states that Ecuadorean military bases cannot be used by foreign armies.

After the violation of Ecuador’s sovereignty by the Colombian army on March 1, 2008, the Constitutional Assembly requested that its Sovereignty, International Relations and Latin American Integration Committee follow up on such acts. One of the main resolutions so far has been the request made by the Committee’s President, Maria Augusta Calle, for an immediate audit of the Manta Base and the US Forward Operating Location (FOL), considering the persistent rumours on the participation of this US military post on the March 1 events.

A communique distributed by the Ecuador No Bases Coalition last week said that: 'activities carried out by US military personnel from Manta are considered a risk for Ecuador. Ecuador’s army has serious concerns about the support that could have been provided by AWACs for the March 1 bombings carried out in the border with Colombia. Ecuador's Army is asking what was the activity of the HC130 that left from Manta on the night of the bombing and returned the next day.' All this should be investigated by the Assembly in the following weeks.

Today, organizations in Ecuador celebrate that our country is a territory of peace and that we will never again have foreign military personnel in our territory. Today the world justice and peace movement that works for demilitarization and the abolition of foreign military bases is also celebrating with the Ecuadoreans a position of dignity that will contribute to build global equality, justice, peace and solidarity. And that is why it is important to recognise the important contribution made by the Assembly Representatives in Ecuador, by placing in the new Constitution this article which will no doubt be an example for other countries around the world. CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY: NEVER AGAIN FOREIGN MILITARY BASES OR TROOPS IN ECUADOR

Helga Serrano N.
Quito, April 1, 2008