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U.S. Southern Command Boasts That It Runs Ecuador's Security Plan

Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, boasted in a Jan. 23 interview with [Ecuador’s daily Primicias]{ that SouthCom has taken over the task of responding to that country’s dangerous security crisis. Powerful drug cartels have run rampant in the country in recent years, responsible for increased violence, crime, assassinations and corruption. After a drug cartel rampage on Jan. 9 led President Daniel Nobia to declare a state of “internal armed conflict,” the Biden administration moved in quickly.

Richardson explained that U.S. military and naval personnel will move into the country with large quantities of equipment, vehicles, training and a $93.4 million “investment portfolio” to pay for equipment and other operations. She enthusiastically discussed details of a five-year SouthCom plan she said was intended not only for Ecuador “but with other countries in the region which face the same challenges.”

As this news service has warned, this isn’t “assistance,” but a bald SouthCom move to violate Ecuador’s sovereignty using fighting drug cartels as a pretext, to counter “malign actors” China and Russia and the growing motion in the region around the BRICS. Just prior to Richardson’s arrival, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose government has been negotiating with Guyana to peacefully resolve their border conflict without the Southern Command’s interference, warned Noboa that inviting SouthCom into Ecuador would be a “gigantic mistake” whose results would be “chaos, prostitution, violence and more drug-trafficking.”

Richardson arrived in Ecuador on Jan. 22 as part of a delegation led by former Sen. Chris Dodd, Joe Biden’s Special Envoy for the Americas, and high-level U.S. military and State Department personnel. She met with Noboa, the entirety of the military and police command, the Attorney General and most of the cabinet to present the Biden administration’s plans to provide Ecuador’s security forces with the training and equipment they need. It’s clear from reports that these arrangements were worked out beforehand and that the millionaire President, son of the country’s wealthiest banana baron, is fully onboard.

The backdrop to the U.S. delegation’s arrival was the decision by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court this week that two agreements signed with the Biden administration last September by then-President Guillermo Lasso, don’t require the approval of the National Assembly. These allow for the deployment of U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine personnel to Ecuador’s coastal waters and on land and grant them sweeping privileges, including full diplomatic immunity, in the event they violate Ecuadorian law. Richardson explained in her Primicias interview that the Ecuador Security Assistance Roadmap lays out the details of the five-year program of cooperation between Ecuador and the Pentagon, including financial resources to cover transfer of military equipment, humanitarian assistance, “professional military education,” exchange of special forces, etc.

She bragged that for fiscal year 2024, “we have a total of 124 activities planned in Ecuador” including joint military exercises, provision of a large quantity of military matériel, and increased FBI and Homeland Security presence. One large military exercise, Gallup X, including 20 countries, will take place this year and the hope is that Ecuador will participate, Richardson said.