Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ecuador's New Constitution, Part 2: Sovereignty

Yesterday, we outlined the effect Ecuador's new Constitution will have on the Armed Forces and the Police. Today, we move on to the topic of sovereignty.

Not only does the new Constitution prohibit the establishment of foreign military bases or installations with military goals within its territory (think the U.S. military base in Manta), it also sets the stage for Ecuador to push for further regional integration and defense cooperation. Additionally, as laid out in the new Constitution, sovereignty will no longer be viewed solely from the territorial point of view, but it also be viewed in terms of energy, nutrition and policy.

According to El Comercio, these changes in the Constitution demonstrate that Ecuador seeks to distance itself from the United States' policies of the global war against terror and the militarization of the fight against narcotrafficking.

Below, like yesterday, is a translation of a description of what these changes in the new Constitution imply and what they mean for Ecuador.
(translated from the article in El Comercio, "Una nueva visión de soberanía")

A new vision of sovereignty

What does this imply?

A new vision of sovereignty and territorial defense will emerge with the new Constitution. Since the Government rose to power, it said that it would not extend the agreement for the use of the base at Manta by the U.S. military. This promise was celebrated by Article 5 of the constitutional project. In addition, the country will enter into a new logic of sovereignty with a strong regional charge.

The intention is to distance Ecuador from the defense doctrine of U.S. policy that consisted of a hemispheric security vision and that in the recent years has consolidated into a global practice for the fight against terrorism and the militarization of the fight against narcotrafficking. This resulted in major repercussions within the countries that make up the Andean region.

Now, the security agenda will be considered along with political and economic aspects. As a result, within a new Magna Carta it will be established that the country adopts the means to push for regional or subregional integration. This is not a process that has been created in Ecuador, but is also being carried out in European and Asian countries that transformed their nationalist vision and unified into a block in order to negotiate in accordance with their weaknesses and strengths.

As a result the new vision of sovereignty will be multidimensional. It no longer will have only one concept, the territory, and it will instead span themes such as policy and economy.

What does this mean?

The project of the new Constitution presents a transversal model of sovereignty, since it is no longer analyzed only from the territorial point of view, but includes the political, energetic, and even, nutritional point of view. From the territorial point of view the Montecristi proposal establishes the expressive prohibition of the establishment of foreign military bases or installations with military goals within the country.

Also, it signals a more extensive concept of Ecuadorian territory than the Magna Carta of 1998. In article 4 it is expressed that territory is a geographic and historical unit of natural, social and cultural dimensions. This territory makes up the continental and maritime space, the adjacent islands, the territorial sea, the Galapagos Archipelago, the soil, the submarine platform, and the overlying continental, insular and maritime space. Its limits are determined by current treaties. In addition, Ecuador's territory is inalienable, irreducible, and inviolable. No one may make an attempt against the national unity and encourage succession. Also, the concept that the Armed Forces are charged with protecting the sovereignty and territorial defense of the nation.

But, within the project of the new Magna Carta, a policy of defense and territorial sovereignty will have a new base that pushes for the union of the countries in the region, which will signify a distancing from the defense doctrine of the United States.

Sovereignty in the Project

Art. 4. The territory is a geographic and historical unit of natural, social and cultural dimensions. It makes up the continental and maritime space, the adjacent islands, the territorial sea, the Galapagos Archipelago, the soil, the submarine platform, the overlying continental, insular and maritime space. Its limits are determined by current treaties.

Art. 5. Ecuador is a territory of peace. The establishment of foreign military bases and installations with military goals are not permitted. National military bases may not be handed over to foreign militaries or security forces.

Art. 57. Various rights for indigenous communities and nationalities are recognized. Among them, the limitation of military activities in their territories, according to the Law.

Art. 158. The Armed Forces and the Police are institutions for the protection of rights, liberties and guarantees for the citizens. The Armed Forces has as its fundamental mission the defense of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Art. 416. In number 5 it is established that Ecuador recognizes the rights of distinct pueblos that coexist within the States, especially in promoting mechanisms that express, preserve and protect the diverse character of their societies and rejects racism, xenophobia, and all other forms of discrimination.

Art. 423. The integration, especially with Latin American and Caribbean countries, will be a strategic objective of the State. Number 6 of this article establishes that there will be a common defense policy that will consolidate a strategic alliance to strengthen the sovereignty of the countries and of the region.

Sovereignty in the 1998 Constitution

Art. 2. The Ecuadorian territory is inalienable and irreducible. It is made of the Real Audiencia de Quito with the modifications introduced in current treaties, the adjacent islands, the Galapagos Archipelago, the territorial sea, the subsoil and the overlying space...

Art. 5. Ecuador may form associations with one or more States for the promotion and defense of its national interests.

Art. 183. The Armed Forces has as its mission the conservation of the national sovereignty, the defense of the integrity and the independence of the State

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The redefined role of Ecuador's military and police under the new Constitution

On Sunday, Ecuadorians went to the polls to vote on the country's 20th Constitution, which has been one of President Rafael Correa's main projects since he was elected two years ago. With 96.26% of the votes counted, the 'yes' vote has 64.04% of the vote and the 'no' 28.01%.

As has been reported widely in the international press, the new Constitution concentrates power in the hands of the President, gives the President the option of running for reelection - for a total of two consecutive four year terms -, permits civil unions of homosexual couples, puts the powers of the Central Bank into the hands of the executive, and, for the first time in the world of constitutions, grants nature an inalienable right to be protected.

What hasn't been reported is how the new constitution will affect the military, the police, civilian control, and sovereignty - topics that are of main interest to Just the Facts. For the next few days, we will outline on this blog how the new Constitution will affect these aspects of security and defense in Ecuador, courtesy of a series published by Ecuador's El Comercio called "With a microscope on the Constitution."

Today, we will start with the military and the police.

Military and Police have the right to vote
(translated from the article "Los uniformados podrán votar")

What does this imply?

The constitutional reform project eliminates the concept of the "Public Force" and clearly defines the functions of the Armed Forces as an entity in defense of sovereignty and territorial integrity. In addition, it defines the authority of the Police as an organism in charge of public order and citizen security. The responsibility to guarantee the legal system of the nation is not included in the new functions of the Armed Forces.

Within political rights, the legislative project determines that the members of the Armed Forces and the Police will have the voluntary right to vote. Nevertheless, it does not signal the control mechanism for order during electoral processes.

Military service will no longer be obligatory under the framework of respect for diversity and rights. Additionally, voluntary recruitment will be accompanied by training programs in different occupational areas.

Those who voluntarily enlist for military service will not be designated for zones of high military risk. In regard to members of the Police, they will have a specialized formation in accordance with human rights. In both cases, a system of merit-based promotions will be established, with criteria for equality and gender.

In application of the principle of legal unity, the police and the military will be judged by the citizen justice system if a crime is committed.

What does this mean?

The institutions of the Armed Forces and the Police will be differentiated, with specific and complementary functions under the framework of respect for democracy and human rights. The legislative project will avoid having the high-command of the military decide what circumstances constitute a threat to the legal integrity of the nation.

The members of the Armed Forces and the Police will have the ability to exercise their political right to a voluntary vote within the electoral process; however, there are restrictions with respect to the possibility of becoming a candidate in a popular election.

Any Ecuadorian citizen will be able to voluntarily enlist for military service. The legislative project prohibits any form of forced recruitment and guarantees the security of the volunteer members, although it does not specify what zones are considered to be of high military risk.

Additionally, the project guarantees the enlistment of both men and women to the Armed Forces and the Police without any type of discrimination.

The Police is defined as an institution to service the community with a focus on crime prevention to guarantee the security of citizens.

If a member of the Armed Forces or the Police commits a crime, he or she will be judged in a court specialized in the subject of military and police and integrated into the judicial system.

The project:

Art. 62. The vote will be accessible to people between 16 and 18 years old, over 65 years old, Ecuadorians who live abroad, members of the Armed Forces and the Police.

Art. 113. Members of the Armed Forces and the National Police who are in active service cannot be candidates for popular election.

Art. 147. It is the power and the right of the President of the Republics to exercise maximum authority over the Armed Forces and the National Police and to designate the members of the High Command of the Military and Police.

Art. 152. Active members of the Armed Forces and the National Police cannot be Ministers of the State.

Art. 158. The Armed Forces and the National Police are institutions that protect the rights, liberties and guarantees of the citizens. The Armed Forces have the fundamental mission to defined the sovereignty and integrity of the territory. Internal protection and the maintenance of public order is the responsibility of the National Police.

Art. 159. The Armed Forces and the National Police will be obedient and follow the chain of command, and will comply with their mission with the strict submission to civil power and to the Constitution.

Art. 160. Those aspiring to a military or police career will not be discriminated against for their enlistment. The law establishes the specific requirements for those cases in which special skills, knowledge or capacity is required. The members will be subjected to a system of merit-based promotion, with criteria for gender equality.

Art. 161. Civil-military service is voluntary. This service will be carried out in the framework of respect for diversity and rights, accompanied by an alternative training . . .

The current law

Art. 27. Popular vote is universal, equal, direct and secret; it is obligatory for those who can read and write, optional for those who are illiterate and for those over 65 years old. Active members of the "Public Force" will not be able to use this right.

Art. 101. Active members of the public force may not be candidates in the popular election.

Art. It is the power and the right of the President of the Republic to exercise the maximum authority over the public force, designate the members of the Miltary High Command . . .

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's official - Ecuador will not renew the United States's lease on the Manta air base

Ecuador's non-renewal of the U.S. presence at its Manta air base is not breaking news. President Rafael Correa has promised to close the U.S. counter-drug "Forward Operating Location" since he began his campaign for president in 2006, and its potential closing has been in the news for months. However, it was made official yesterday when Ecuador's Foreign Ministry formally notified the U.S Embassy of the decision to not renew the lease when it expires in 2009.

The Manta air base has been used by the United States since a ten-year agreement was signed in 1999. U.S. personnel and contractors launch surveillance flights that have been responsible for about 60 percent of drug seizures in the eastern Pacific, reports the Associated Press. However, Ecuador has been concerned that not only does the U.S. military presence in its territory threaten the country's sovereignty, it also threatens to unwillingly entangle Ecuador in the conflict in Colombia and the regional war on drugs.

According to the Foreign Ministry's statement yesterday, U.S. surveillance flights will end in August 2009 and all foreign personnel must withdrawal from the Manta air base by the end of November 2009, when the U.S. facilities there will be turned over to the Ecuadorian Air Force.

While it has previously been reported that the United States hoped to move the base to a new location in either Colombia or Peru, U.S. military officials have recently said that they do not plan to set up an alternative base.

Without the Manta air base, it will be interesting to see how the U.S. government arranges to host the AWACS, P-3 and other sophisticated aircraft that were carrying out surveillance from Manta. Rumors continue about a new base or other hosting arrangement in Colombia, while there is some possibility that surveillance flights may simply increase at the two other existing Forward Operating Locations in El Salvador and the Netherlands Antilles.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ecuador's Defense Minister, Gustavo Larrea, visits Washington

Yesterday, Ecuador's Minister of Internal and External Security, Gustavo Larrea, was in Washington to meet with various members of Congress, the media, and to speak at an event hosted by CSIS and the Inter-American Dialogue. It seems that Larrea's visit was timed such that he could promote Ecuador's new Constitution, approved by the constituent assembly yesterday and up for referendum vote in September, and to make clear that while Ecuador hopes to maintain bilateral relations with the United States, it also will uphold its sovereignty. You can listen to Larrea's presentation at the CSIS and Dialogue event (in Spanish) here.

Below are translations of excerpts from two media sources, The Associated Press and El Nuevo Empresario, covering Larrea's visit.

The Associated Press, "Ecuador wants the United States' help, but will deny it the base in Manta" by Nestor Ikeda

The Ecuadorian Minister of Internal and External Security said on Thursday that his country needs the cooperation of the United States in investments and to combat drugs, but it will continue with its plan to deny, at the start of next year, the United States' use of the Manta air base for its interdiction flights.

"United States would not accept another country's air base in its territory, we won't either," said Gustavo Larrea. "We are a nation and we are sovereign."


He indicated that he came to ask for U.S. help in the implementation of Plan Ecuador, for border development; the fight against narcotrafficking, the renewal of the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) that expires in December, and business investments, but "with total respect for our sovereignty."


According to Larrea, in the case of the U.S. exit from Manta, Ecuador was being stigmatized because the government was preparing the maritime port for operations of high quality Asian commercial ships.

"These improvements are part of multiplying our trade relations with the world's communities," he declared. "We make them with absolute pride and absolute sovereignty."

Larrea explained that Ecuador was working with the United States "in a transition" so that it can move its two interdiction aircrafts to another place and recalled that his country, despite having been recognized by the Department of State as a leader in the capture of drugs, was "the least favored in international cooperation," of only some three million dollars. [We have no idea how Larrea derives this figure, as our database shows the United States granting Ecuador an estimated $52.3 million this year.]

"I have not come to ask for a dollar more of cooperation," he affirmed. "I have come with dignity to say what we are doing and to say that a base (of the United States) is not acceptable in our territory because our country does not want it."

He explained that the U.S. exit was not the result of expulsion, but because in 2009 the 10 year contract that was signed by the two governments expires.

"This does not mean that we are not going to continue fighting against narcotrafficking," he said. "We will continue our efforts. But we need this airport (in Manta)."

According to Larrea, Ecuador will take on the work of interdiction of drugs, for which they have bought two unmanned planes and dozens of high velocity boats.

El Nuevo Empresario, "Gustavo Larrea, Minister of Internal and External Security completes a tight agenda in the United States"

At the House of Representatives, he [Larrea] met with Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel [D-New York], Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, with Republican Rep. Dan Burton [R-Indiana], minority head of the same subcommittee, and with Rep. Nita Lowey [D-New York], Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.

Minister Larrea made known to the representatives the process of change that the country faces in a democratic and peaceful environment, which is reflected in the elaboration of a new political constitution that will be put up for public consideration in September through a referendum.

At the same time, the minister referred to the specificities of Ecuador, a country that does not follow any foreign model and is independent from other Latin American models and that is living its own process of change; he referred to the friendly relations that exist between the two counties, expressed above all by the U.S. Embassy in Quito.

During the conference at CSIS, he referred to the role developed by the Ecuadorian Government in the fight against drug trafficking and the control and protection of the border with Colombia, where the country has put into practice "Plan Ecuador" as a policy of peaceful borders and community development in the provinces bordering Colombia."

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