7 November 2008

Javier Ponce, Poet and Defence Minister, Takes On The CIA In Ecuador

By José Steinsleger

The process of popular and social emancipation has started to gather force in Ecuador. In April, after a joint Colombian-U.S. military operation against a FARC camp in Ecuadorian territory, President Rafael Correa entrusted the writer Javier Ponce Cevallos with steering the Ministry of Defence.

If the appointment was nitric acid for the Creole oligarchy and the conservative sector of the armed forces, imagine the unease in the CIA and Southern Command of the imperial army.

From the time of the military coup orchestrated by the CIA in July 1963, 22 governments, military, interim and democratic, never dared to question the power of “the company” in Ecuador.

Philip Agee, the famous agent who left the CIA in Mexico (1968), worked in Ecuador from 1960 to 1963. In his book Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Agee revealed the identity of about a hundred informants situated in the most exalted levels of the Andean country.

At the end of 1989, the U.S. journalist, Seymour Hersh, revived the case of President Jaime Roldós who died in 1981 together with his wife and General Marco Subia, Defence Minister. The plane on which they were travelling exploded in mid-air a few months after the military confrontation between Ecuador and Peru.

At the beginning of 2001, a popular uprising defeated the Christian Democratic President, Jamil Mahaud, mentor of dollarisation and the U.S. military base in Manta. Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez was proclaimed the “national saviour”. Elected in January 2003, Colonel Gutiérrez became another sepoy of the CIA. Another revolt overthrew him in April 2005.

On accepting charge, Javier Ponce showed his courage and patriotism. The post has consequences. In January 2007, the Defence Minister, Guadalupe Larriva, and her daughter of 17 years died in a helicopter crash near the Manta base. The accident aroused suspicion similar to that caused by the death of Roldós, as critical of the militarist policy of Ronald Regain in Central America as Larriva was of Plan Colombia in the Andean region.

Javier Ponce joined the unorthodox Left early. He knows the social movements and popular organisations in Ecuador better than these they do and his books cannot be ignored in understanding the country.

More than the three published novels, the essay ‘And morning found them in power’ is a sad and beautiful reflection on the difficult them of “identity”. In ‘Seated between two chairs’ Ponce combs through 40 years of his experience in social development programme. He criticises rigorously, not without humour, the small world of international cooperation, the NGOs and the European financial advisers who come to help the “good savage”.

According to a report published by a Quito newspaper, Army Intelligence receives between $16 and $18 million annually from the CIA for “information exchange”. In the past, the poet-minister declared that the national police was “practically financed and controlled by the North American embassy in this capital”.

About the bombing of the FARC camp, the minister added that the CIA and some military commanders fully knew what would happen that day and hid the information “to mislead the political establishment”.

The distinguished Ecuadorian, Benjamín Carrión (1897–1979) wrote: “If we cannot, neither should be a political, economic, diplomatic and even less – much more than even less –military power, we can be a great cultural power, because our history authorises and encourages us to do so”. Proposal which, I’m sure, Javier Ponce has engraved on his forehead.

Source: La Jornada

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