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Activists Call for an End to Foreign Military Bases
by Camille Sauvé
Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
March 5-9, 2007

Hundreds of activists from around the world came together March 5 through 9 to attend the International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases at the Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador.
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The event was organized by the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases and is composed of a network of organizations, coalitions and individuals working for the closure of foreign military bases and other forms of military presence worldwide.

Socialist-leaning Ecuadorian president, Rafeal Correa, stated that he intends to withdraw the U.S. military from Manta when the joint-U.S./Ecuadorian base agreement expires in 2009, although activists are working to get foreign troops out before the expiration date.

The president expressed his support for the anti-base, anti-war movement, according to the "No Bases" coalition spokeswoman, Helga Serrano, when he met with a group of participants to the conference.

The week long conference started with three days of forums and workshops focusing on education, coordination efforts and networking for attendees and ended with a march at the Eloy Alfaro Air Force base in Manta against U.S. military presence.

Topics at the conference included construction of foreign military bases in the Middle East, specifically Afghanistan and Iraq; cited cases of torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Diego Garcia; new base construction in Okinawa; prostitution and sex crimes near bases; and the dramatic increase of joint military exercises as part of the so-called "global war against terror" have highlighted how foreign military bases and militarization of whole societies are used to secure certain states and corporations interests at the cost of democracy, justice, and sovereignty around the world.


PARTNERS IN EMPIRE BUILDING

Though much attention was focused on the United States because it is the country with the most foreign military bases, many activists pointed out that NATO and the EU are partners with the United States in carrying out corporate/military policies.

"The EU is now a major military power with a reaction corp of 180,000 soldiers and a elite corp of 1,500" said Tobias Pflüger, a member of the European Parliament from Germany, "The EU also have the same analysis as the United States when it comes to military intervention saying they can take action in response to weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism and to failed states."

Hans Lammerant of the Forum for Peace Action also spoke of how EU and NATO troops are directly linked to U.S. policy. "Afghanistan has become a NATO mission and there are planes leaving from Ramstein Air force base, which is used by both EU and Nato troops, to bomb Iraq."

Stating that countries were just as complicit in war crimes when they host foreign militaries that commit crimes against humanity, Lammerant added, "You are not considered neutral under international law if you allow foreign military planes to bomb countries when they are stationed in your country or use your air space."

Governments in Latin American, Africa and Asia were also criticized.

Walter Bello, a representative from the Philippines called the program, "'imperial democracy,'" an economic plan to open up markets for strategic extensions."

"Our military has become private guards for transnational companies," said Blanco Chancoso, an indigenous indian from Ecuador. "In indian territory it is rich in biodiversity and oil. The people have a right to live, and we blame our government for not protecting us."

It was unclear as to what the new government under Rafeal Correa would do to address Chancoso's concerns.


PRETEXTS FOR EMPIRE

Activists pointed out how the "War on Terror" and the "Drug War" are being used as pretexts for transnational corporations to steal other countries' resources and to help the U.S. and its allies position themselves militarily to exploit and control strategic regions around the world.

"Ecuadorians were tricked into accepting U.S. bases under the pretext of fighting drugs and terrorism," said Ecuadorian No Bases organizer Nieve Solórzano." What the U.S. wants to do is make an agreement with the Ecuadorian government's military to create more bases by using the war on terror and drugs."

"By using the pretext of drug trafficking they can transplant people so oil companies can come in," said Blanco Chancoso, "This is part of Plan Columbia and is military branch of the FTA."

Kenyan peace activist Otieno Ombok also pointed out how U.S. and Britain are attempting to control key water resources in Africa by putting in military bases in Africa. "Water is being shipped out from Africa to Europe and the U.S. from Coca Cola Company in the form of Dasani water. Bases are used to secure these resources for private companies."

U.S. REPRESENTATION

Many U.S. activists were present at the conference including Medea Benjamin from Global Exchange and Code Pink; Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee; Ikaika Hussey, a Hawaiian anti-base activist; Genaro Rendón, Co-Director of the Southwest Workers’ Union and the Committee for Environmental Justice Action in San Antonio, Texas, and John Lindsay-Poland of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Medea Benjamin pointed out how the American people are hurt by U.S. foreign military bases as it diverts money from social causes and promotes militarism. "The U.S. people do not want more bases abroad. We know it is not about protecting people but protecting corporate profits. We are victims of the empire and our kids are getting killed."

Delegates ended the conference by drafted a declaration that condemned foreign military bases for their role in "wars of aggression that violate human rights; oppress all people, particularly indigenous peoples, African descendants, women and children; and destroy communities and the environment." They demanded a closure of existing bases, cleanup of environmental contamination, and an end to legal immunity for foreign military personnel.

The statement concluded with support and solidarity for "those who struggle for the abolition of all foreign military bases worldwide."

Other Coverage:

http://www.no-bases.org/
http://www.monthlyreview.org/0302editr.htm
http://coanews.org/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=1733
§Some Conference Speakers
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Conference speakers (left to right) Otieno Ombok, Tobias Pflueger, Hannah Middleton, Lisa Sullivan, Hans Lammerant, Javier Garate
§Deborah Santana, Blanco Chancoso and Suzuyo Takazato
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Speakers at the Second panel spoke on the impact of foreign military bases on the environment, gender, human rights, peace, democracy and sovereignty.
§In Chone, Ecuador
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Celebrating International Women's Day in Chone on the way to Manta
§In Portoviejo, Ecuador
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Activists in Portoviejo, Ecuador
§Banner at the head of the march
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Yankee go home.
§Marchers
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Marchers
§No Bases Kids
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Kids living adjacent to the base.
§Marcher
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Tribute to Guadaloupe Larriva, the Ecuadorian civilian defence minister who died earlier this year
§Mujeres de Manta
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Mujeres de Manta Unidas por la Paz
§Japenese Conference Contingent
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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The Japenese Conference Contingent
§Come Join In
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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Marcher asking policeman to join in
§At the gates of the Base
by Camille Sauvé Sunday Mar 18th, 2007 8:50 PM
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At the gates of the Base

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by manta_ american
Monday Mar 19th, 2007 2:51 AM
I don’t get it..... Can’t the people of Ecuador see what is happening....? Correa is trying to gain complete control of Ecuador by doing away with the congress and the officials.
I am an American and I have lived in Manta, Ecuador and worked at the base. The Americans at the base in Manta have done so much to help the people of Manta. I have personally assisted and gave money out of my own pockets to help build schools, adopt orphanages, give toys during Christmas, teach English to school children.
Ask the forgotten schools in the poorest neighborhoods they will tell you where their school desks came from and who gave them the paper and pencils to write with.
Ask the Fire Fighters who help them train and donated equipment for their departments.
Go to the burn clinic and ask the poorest child that is burned who paid for their treatments.
Look how much revenue come in from the apartments, restaurants, shops.
Tourism is at all time high in Ecuador with more and more people coming in on ships and planes to tour and visit this wonderful country, You think this will still happen if the security of the base is no longer there?
Ask the local people if their life is better because of the base and you will be surprised what you hear...
by Camille
Monday Mar 19th, 2007 7:46 AM
From what I could ascertain from the people in Manta is that there is a 50/50 split in people either against or supportive of the bases. Certainly, some are doing better financially, but the their are others, like this kids who live right next to the base who are living in squalor. Also, in the long run, as the article indicates, bases can have high levels of chemicals polluting the environment, produce more crime, and be used to launch war against the host countries neighbors. Nevermind the question of sovereinty of the host nation.
by Jonathan Hunt Fox news reporter
Tuesday Mar 20th, 2007 4:43 AM
Dear Mr. President

Last week, you were kind enough to invite me and my FOX News colleagues to breakfast, where we discussed your opinion of U.S. foreign policy, and your view of the anti-drug operations being carried out by U.S. personnel at Ecuador's Manta Airbase. You described the U.S. surveillance work carried out there as "useless."

Well, Mr. President, with all due respect, having now visited Manta and seen the U.S. operation (something you've never done, Sir) I beg to differ.

It's hard to argue with facts. And the fact is that U.S. planes based at Manta flew 850 surveillance missions over the Pacific last year, and those missions were critical to the seize of more than $5 billion of illegal narcotics, most of it destined for the streets of American cities.

You argue that it's a question of sovereignty: You don't want U.S. forces on Ecuadorian territory. But where's the sovereignty in allowing the northern areas of your country to be overrun by the Colombian cartels, who are bringing more and more cocaine across the border into Ecuador and shipping it out from there? Where's the sovereignty in allowing the cartels to set up cocaine labs in your country, with all the attendant environmental damage? And, Mr. President, where's the sovereignty in allowing more and more Ecuadorians, children and adults, to fall prey to the cartels, to be seduced into a cocaine habit that can only destroy their lives, and the lives of Ecuadorian families?
U.S. anti-drug operations in Ecuador And, by the way, the U.S. personnel at Manta love your country and the Ecuadorian people. Lt. Colonel Javier Delucca of the U.S. Air Force runs the Manta operation. I have rarely met a man so dedicated — not just in the global fight against drugs, his day job — but to the other part of his work, which is making a difference to the lives of Ecuadorians who live near the base.

Everyone working at the U.S. operation in Manta takes part in raising money for local schools and health clinics. They organize soccer and baseball leagues for the local kids, they work with disabled children in Manta, and while I was there, they reached into their own pockets and raised $450 for a local children's choir that came to perform for them during lunch.

Mr. President, what I saw at Manta, was a group of people who, while proud to be American, are also proud to be a part of the Ecuadorian community, in which they live and work.

Perhaps, Sir, before you fulfill your threat to kick those U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard personnel out of your country, you should go and see for yourself exactly what they do.

And if you need any further incentive, I can tell you from experience that Col. Delucca throws a mean St. Patrick's Day party.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Hunt
by manta_ american
Tuesday Mar 20th, 2007 5:26 AM
Quote: “From what I could ascertain from the people in Manta is that there is a 50/50 split in people either against or supportive of the bases.

How long did you spend making your decision? How did you come up with this 50/50 split? Ballets; questionnaires? With whom did you ask? Where?


Quote: Certainly, some are doing better financially, but the their are others, like this kids who live right next to the base who are living in squalor.

Ill tell you there is more than just the people that live next to the base that live in squalor drive through Tarqui, Montecristi or any of the places along the way from Quito…you will find people that live in bamboo huts on poles or shacks of scraps of metal.
If you didn’t realize Ecuador in general is a very poor country.

Why not use the money wasted on banners, t shirts, stickers, and sound stages and loud horns to buy pencils paper shoes to educate the children. A large percentage of children in Ecuador can not afford school or do not have the facilities. Educate then so they can better themselves.

Quote: Also, in the long run, as the article indicates, bases can have high levels of chemicals polluting the environment, produce more crime, and be used to launch war against the host countries neighbors.

I don’t know if you have ever had the opportunity to view the base or its procedures I can guarantee one thing Manta base is 1000 time better now than before the Americans came. The US Military prides its self on the conservation of the environment.
There is a huge focus on recycling from paper and aluminum cans to the oil and gas of its vehicles and planes. Every drop of oil that is spilled is cleaned documented and properly contained.

What crime is being produced that is an affect of the base being there? The kidnappings still go on as with the stabbings and the robberies; I don’t know of any Americans from the base robbing steeling or killing anyone…..

The crime has always been there… Did you see the walls around houses the bars on the windows how about all the security guards that line the streets in front of the banks, restaurants, bars, houses.

Think that maybe because of the lack of an adequate police force or training that can easily be paid off to look the other way?

Did you read the news paper how many murders did you see?

It would be hard for the Americans to wage war since they have no aircraft that carry weapons.

So in your quote that bases can have high levels of chemicals polluting the environment let me see your facts and your proof that Manta bases is doing so…

Most of the rivers around manta to include the Foul smelling Tarqui River that is grossly polluted with raw swage from the untreated discharges for houses and tuna canning factories.

Quote: Nevermind the question of sovereignty of the host nation.

The people have the right to do what they wish but to say that the Manta base is a bad thing and that they have done harm is wrong the base has done more for Ecuador that what credit is being given.

Manta is one of the most expensive cities in all of Ecuador because of the money that is generated from the base… Do the research. Spend some time there then make your comments
by tim
Monday Mar 26th, 2007 11:00 PM
The letter above shows the political narrowness of U.S. Imperialist personal. The worlds people in their hundreds of millions have demonstrated year after year that they do not want the Unjust wars that America is waging for oil in the middle east. Perhaps if they ended their illegal wars of mass slaughter of innocent civilians (600,000 in Iraq) the population of America would of its own volition end the purchasing of drugs for their artificial highs out of the system that lies to and pollutes them into sickness.

The Geneva conventions of war (1949) to which America is signed on to states that the U.S. Imperialist military is committing illegal war crimes thoughout the mid-east. Three most obvious are 1) targeting and killing of civilians, 2) Torturing and killing of prisoners of war, such as Guantanamo and Abu-Graib, and the hundreds of illegal imperial detention centers run by the C.I.A as extraordinary rendition flights to torture globally, 3) Collective punishment , such as shock and awe, the bombing of hundreds of cities and towns to rubble because their citizens chose to join the resistence to the illegal U.S. military invasions of their countries.

The anti-fascist side fights to live, and that means they are for making aggressive wars illegal as foreign policy, and further making negotiation and collective agree as the new way to resolve contradictions between nations. The goal in fact of the anti-fascist fighters is to set the goal of liberation as the end of the war machine and its manufactury , and to function all technology as supportive of the planets livabilityin every country.

The fascist side fights to effect the discredited military methods of might makes right, unilateralism, and pre-emptive strikes for the false purpose of warring class against class, gender against gender, race against race, nation against nation, religion against religion and all for the greed of monopoly that pollutes and demises the planets livability. The Fascist side fights to die.

The anti-fascist covenants are the United Nations Charter (not the secrurity council that is presently subverted by Imperialist minority veto used for aggressive war in stead of peace , as the majority charter states, further the world court of the Hague, The Geneva Conventions, the International criminal court, the international war crimes tribunal, the nuremburg Trials which states that plotting and launching aggressive war is the supreme war crime possible on earth. Bushco is violating all these covenants and is breaking international law by launching illegal wars.

U.S. Imperialism has a long and bloody history of linvading Latin America and killing the indigenous peoples and the settler population. Something of over one hundred invasions since the Manifest destiny declared by Munroe. The people of every country have just cause in declaring for independance and freedom and to choose their own system and way of living. The U.S. Empire has over one hundred bases spread over the globe and is actively killing peoples who are resisting their empires illegal wars and occupations and the U.S puppet governments set up to facilitate raw resources to America. In plain english language the U.S. empire is acting as a gangster. The war on terror and the war on drugs is a fraud put in to practice real counter-insurgency and suppress the peoples struggles for genuine independance and democracy. In Columbia the head of the U.S. Military occupation in the war on drugs with his wife was caught laundering over one million dollars of heroin drug money in the U.S. consulate, and everone in the world knows that since the American conquoring of Afghanistan and the ouster of the Taliban (whom by the way was installed and financed by the C.I.A. and whom had ended most of the heroin production in that country) the heroin production and world distribution has become larger than every with U.S. soldiers being killed by their own soldiers for even reporting on the smuggling going on by the puppet govt, and the U.S. troops. Lie after Lie, and you are further from stopping drugs or terror than ever. In fact the U.S. government is selling and producing more weapons of mass destruction each year than the rest of the world combined. It is a government that is thriving on murder, C.I.A. drug dealing and lies in order to destroy the green power movement and destroy the planets livability with pollution of coal, gas, oil, and atomic energy, when the green movement has created the hi-tech tools to put in place wind, tidal, and solar power which ends most pollution globally. Literally if Bushco wins, the planets dies. Wake up soldiers and go home and liberate your own country from the polluting war mongers that are destroying it. Everyone would like to see a free and liberated America.

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