June 16, 2019

One of my dear friends decided to spend several months traveling through South America with her new husband. I was so jealous, as I felt stuck at home with two very young children. Keri sent me pictures of them hiking in Peru, dancing in Brazil, and getting up close to blue-footed boobies in the Galapagos. The Galapagos Islands in particular fascinated me. This fragile ecology that was home to species seen nowhere else. In the back of my mind, I put that on my bucket list of things to do when I was no longer hip deep in diapers and playgroup dates.

But it looks like I may have waited too late to get to the Galapagos. The Independent reports that Equador has granted the US permission to use the Galapagos for a military airfield:

Ecuador has given the US military permission to use a Galapagos island as an airfield, angering critics in the South American country who say the agreement is unconstitutional.

Under a deal with Ecuador’s right-wing government, the Pentagon will use the tiny airport on San Cristobal island to “fight drug trafficking”, defence minister Oswaldo Jarrin said.

A US air force Boeing 707 plane carrying radar surveillance and a Lockheed P-3 Orion plane will patrol the Pacific Ocean, using the Galapagos as a launching off point, Latin American TV network Telesur reported.

The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO world heritage site, with a ton of eco-tourism (which itself, brings much damage to the area). San Cristobal is the easternmost island, and has already a fragile ecology. Can't imagine how it will be with military flights coming in and out. The military isn't exactly known for being sensitive to the environment.

Ecuador's constitution explicitly says that the islands will not be used for foreign military bases, so it's unclear if this move will pass legal challenges.

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