March 23, 2009
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
The State Department has turned down an offer by the government of El Salvador to renew a joint drug interdiction program that allows the U.S. Navy to base P-3 maritime search aircraft at Comalpa International airport in El Salvador.
The ten-year agreement, which went into force after the Salvadoran legislature approved it in 2000, is set to expire next year. The Office of National Drug Control Policy recently estimated that over 50 percent of the drugs destined for the United States transit through the Pacific corridor patrolled by the P-3 aircraft based in El Salvador.
“El Salvador has been our staunchest anti-drug ally in the region, outside of Columbia,” said Dr. J. Michael Waller, a Latin America expert with the Center for Security Policy.
“This program was very well established. The Salvadoran government wanted to extend it for ten years and the State Department said no. What kind of insanity is that?”