Ecuador has formally told the Bush administration that the US military must vacate its base in the Ecuadorian city of Manta once its lease expires next year. The US has used the Manta base for the past decade to lead anti-drug flights throughout Latin America. Ecuador's ambassador to the United States, Luis Gallegos, said, "The Ecuadorian people do not want foreign troops on our soil, and the government has to follow the mandate of its people."
Wow! What a concept! A government that responds to the will of the people.
It is painfully obvious that the Republic of the United States of America could learn a thing or two about the fundamentals of democratic rule from the Republic of Ecuador. Furthermore, Ecuador is set to hold a referendum on September 28 on a new constitution that does not allow for the presence of foreign bases in the country.
Of course, there is a price to be paid for such effrontery to the Behemoth of the North.
Newsweek reports Chevron is urging the Bush administration to end special trade preferences for Ecuador if the country's government doesn't interfere with the nation's lawsuit against the corporation and rule favorably for the oil giant. Chevron has been sued for dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste into Ecuador's rain forest. Activists have described the disaster as an Amazon Chernobyl. Earlier this year, a court-appointed expert recommended that Chevron be required to pay up to $16 billion to clean up the rain forest. Now, Chevron is lobbying the Bush administration to pressure Ecuador to quash the case. Chevron's lobbying team includes former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, former Democratic Senator John Breaux and Wayne Berman, a top fundraiser for John McCain. One lobbyist told Newsweek, "We can't let little countries screw around with big companies like this--companies that have made big investments around the world."
And made huge contributions to the campaigns of certain Senators lobbying on Chevron's behalf!
Cut to the recent indictment of Alaska Senator, Ted Stevens on 7 felony counts for "his continuing receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value from a private corporation." That private corporation was, to be sure, an oil company--an oil contractor, to be precise, VECO, by name--which lobbied him for government aid. Fancy that! The illegal gifts to Stevens included more than $250,000 in house renovations and such knick-knacks as a Viking gas grill, furniture and tools, and a new Land Rover.
Perhaps now is the time to look and see if the houses of Senators Lott and McCain are in proper order--and not sporting a new wrap-around veranda or a car port for a new Land Rover paid for by Big Oil.