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Thursday March 24, 2022
U.S.-ECUADOR PARTNERSHIP ACT passed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Here are excerpts from the press release emitted by the US Foreign Relations Committee, 23 March 2022. The bill now must be approved by the senate. But as it received bi-partisan support at the committee level, one would hope that it will pass the senate without too many difficulties.
WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was joined today by Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, in applauding the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of their United States-Ecuador Partnership Act of 2022. The bipartisan proposal, which now moves on to the Senate Floor for a final vote, is the first legislative proposal in the U.S. Congress to focus exclusively on U.S.-Ecuador relations. Recognizing Ecuador as a key democratic partner in Latin America, the legislation lays out a comprehensive diplomatic strategy to strengthen U.S.-Ecuador cooperation on issues of mutual interest, including strengthening democratic institutions, promoting inclusive economic growth, supporting environmental conservation initiatives, and expanding capabilities to address corruption, crime, and malign foreign influence. The legislation also authorizes the transfer of two excess Coast Guard vessels to the Government of Ecuador to support the protection of the Galapagos Marine Reserve, deterrence of illegal fishing, and interdiction of narcotics trafficking.
- Requires a strategy to expand economic and commercial ties between the U.S. and Ecuador, and facilitate conditions for inclusive economic growth, including for Afro-Ecuadorian and Indigenous communities
- Supports Ecuador’s leadership on environmental conservation and stewardship
- Reinforces Ecuador’s efforts to combat illicit economies, including corruption, human trafficking, and illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing
- Authorizes the transfer of two excess Coast Guard cutters to the Government of Ecuador
- Strengthens bilateral security cooperation on cyber, law enforcement, and penitentiary issues, as well as the challenges posed by the malicious activities of foreign states
Specifically, in terms of conservation, the act contains the following sections:
The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, in coordination with the Secretary of State and the heads of other relevant Federal departments and agencies, shall develop and implement programs and enhance existing programs, as necessary 2 and appropriate, to improve ecosystem conservation and 3 enhance the effective stewardship of Ecuador’s natural resources by—
(1) providing technical assistance to Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment to safeguard national parks and protected forests and protected species, while promoting the participation of Indigenous communities in this process;
(2) strengthening the capacity of communities to access the right to prior consultation, encoded in 12 Article 57 of the Constitution of Ecuador and related laws, executive decrees, administrative acts, and ministerial regulations;
(3) supporting Indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian 16 communities as they raise awareness of threats to biodiverse ancestral lands, including through support for local media in such communities and technical assistance to monitor illicit activities;
(4) partnering with the Government of Ecuador in support of reforestation and improving river, lake, and coastal water quality;
(5) providing assistance to communities affected by illegal mining and deforestation; and
(6) fostering mechanisms for cooperation on emergency preparedness and rapid recovery from natural disasters, including by—
(A) establishing regional preparedness, recovery, and emergency management centers to facilitate rapid response to survey and help maintain planning on regional disaster anticipated needs and possible resources; and
(B) training disaster recovery officials on latest techniques and lessons learned from United States experiences.
This seems like good news for Ecuador and Galapagos.