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Ecuador wants a swap: the U.S. base at Manta, Ecuador for a base in Miami, Florida. Is Ecuador making a military or political point?

Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa said Washington must let him open a military base in Miami if the United States wants to keep using an air base on Ecuador’s Pacific coast.

Correa has refused to renew Washington’s lease on the Manta air base, set to expire in 2009. U.S. officials say it is vital for counter-narcotics surveillance operations on Pacific drug-running routes.

“We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base,” Correa said in an interview during a trip to Italy.

“If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.”

The U.S. embassy to Ecuador says on its Web site that anti-narcotics flights from Manta gathered information behind more than 60 percent of illegal drug seizures on the high seas of the Eastern Pacific last year.

The failure to renew the lease at Manta would be a blow to U.S. drug interdiction efforts. That should be enough to make anti-drug warriors happy.

Of course, the Ecuadorians are making a political point. And of course, one has to wonder what the base in Miami would add to Ecuadorian security–other than help prevent the import of illegal Gloria Estaban CDs. It’s not like Ecuador–not the richest of countries–couldn’t use the money from the base rent.

Might Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez be taking up the slack on that point?Read more:

Sources:

Ecuador Wants Military Base in Miami: Many Issues Here

Ecuador Wants Military Base in Miami

mondoreb blogs at Death By 1000 Papercuts. Interested readers can e-mail him at
mondoreb@gmail.com .

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