The Galapagos Islands, a province of Ecuador, are often thought of as a relatively untouched paradise of crystal clear waters and exotic creatures, but that may be about to change. Ecuador will now allow US military planes to operate from the islands’ San Cristobal airport in order to help combat drug trafficking. Ecuadorian lawmakers, however, are skeptical about the decision, as it could potentially have negative impacts on the islands’ conservation and biodiversity.
Congressman Carlos Viteri said that this collaboration with the US was “unacceptable,” especially if the agreement requires their country to “cede an inch of Ecuadorian territory.” Former president Rafael Correa agreed, saying on Twitter that the island is “not an aircraft carrier” for the Americans. And indeed, Ecuador’s own constitution seems to forbid such collaborations, saying that the “establishment of military bases or foreign facilities for military purposes shall not be allowed.”
Despite the backlash, defense minister Oswaldo Jarrin seems unfazed. He insisted that the American presence would not be permanent and that, “Galapagos is for Ecuador our aircraft carrier, it is our natural carrier, because it assures us permanent replenishment, interception facilities, and it is 1,000 kilometers from our coasts.”
Whether or not this military partnership proceeds smoothly remains to be seen, but it certainly looks like a few bumps can be expected in the road ahead, at least in public opinion.