SAN SALVADOR – The former leftist guerrilla set to become El Salvador’s president on June 1 said on Wednesday that he told Washington that his government will maintain the U.S. counternarcotics monitoring post in the Central American nation.
Salvador Sanchez Ceren said he communicated his decision at the meeting he held Monday in the U.S. capital with the State Department’s top official for Latin America, Roberta Jacobson, and the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield.
“We reaffirm the permanence of the Comalapa monitoring base,” he told a press conference.
The outpost, known as Cooperative Security Location Comalapa, has been operating since 2000 at the Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero international airport in Comalapa, some 144 kilometers (89 miles) south of San Salvador.
The cooperation agreement that allowed the installation of the base was signed March 30, 2000, to expire in 10 years.
On April 2, 2009, the two governments signed an extension of the agreement for another five years, from 2010 until 2015.
The new president’s term runs until 2019.
Sanchez Ceren, with the leftist FMLN, said that the Comalapa base “truly has had some successes” in fighting drug trafficking in El Salvador and the rest of Central America.
The base “is not only dedicated to El Salvador, it’s regional, but certainly with much information from it we’ve detected movements of drug shipments that have been seized,” he added.
Sanchez Ceren reaffirmed that his visit to Washington was aimed “not only at creating a deeper relationship between El Salvador and the United States,” but also strengthening bilateral cooperation in different areas.
He added that “with that vision” of strengthening relations and cooperation he also visited in recent weeks the countries of Central America, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Venezuela.