Information on military service, particularly the penalties for failing to serve, 1988-1993 [ECU13232]

According to the Consul of Ecuador in Ottawa, all Ecuadorean males who reach the age of 18 can be called to serve in the armed forces for a period of one year (17 Feb. 1993). There are a number of legally valid reasons for exemption from military service, including health (a person can be declared unfit due to his poor sight or physical condition, for example), family (for example, being the son of a widowed mother) or personal reasons (for example, an individual may be studying, or residing abroad) (Ibid.). Those who fail to perform their military service and lack a legally valid reason for exemption must pay a fine, the amount of which depends on the income of the individual, although the fine normally ranges between US $200 and US $300 (Ibid.). Payment of a fine is usually the only penalty for failing to perform the military service, and a person who pays the fine is not required to serve afterwards (Ibid.). According to the Consul, there have been no changes to the above over the last five years (Ibid.). Please find attached a section from Ecuador: A Country Study entitled "Recruitment and Conditions of Service," which describes conscription and military service in Ecuador as of 1989 (Hanratty 1989, 226-227). According to this document, although the Ecuadorean Constitution states that all Ecuadoreans are subject to a military service obligation, conscription has applied only to males, who have been liable for call-up at the age of 19 to serve for a period of one year (Ibid.). The source states that many of the approximately 80,000 males who became eligible for military service each year could not meet minimum physical or educational standards required for serving, adding that
selective service boards in provincial capitals chose conscripts and liberally granted exemptions for family reasons, such as being the only son or the breadwinner. Students in good academic standing received deferments (Ibid.).

The report also states that army conscripts have received their training in the units to which they were assigned, with the quality of basic training "[depending] greatly on the importance attached to it by the brigade commander" (Ibid., 219). All conscripts reportedly have reserve status until the age of fifty. There is "a skeleton reserve organization at the national level, directly under the Ministry of National Defence, as well as cadre organizations staffed by retired officers and NCOs in various areas of the country" (Ibid., 215, 217). The report adds that training exercises for reservists "were not generally held, but former conscripts assigned to reserve units could expect to be called up for annual weekend musters" (Ibid., 217). The report also adds the following:
Since the 1960s, the army had assigned many conscripts with peasant backgrounds to the Army Agrarian Military Conscription (Conscripción Agraria Militar del Ejército-CAME). The CAME program sought to enable youths from rural areasoften with a minimum educationto meet their service obligation by working in army-operated dairy, livestock-raising, vegetable- or fruit-farming, and shrimp enterprises. The conscripts received a limited amount of military training and were exposed to modern farming practices that might benefit them when they returned to civilian life. The military used CAME products directly or sold them commercially (Ibid.).

Under the section "Military Justice," the above-quoted publication reports that "in cases of absence without leave, sentences [by military courts] ranged from eight days to two years, depending in part on the reasons for the transgression" (Ibid., 226). The report states that "military law could be implemented in cases of serious civil disorder." Military law would authorize trials of civilians in military courts (Ibid., 225). The report adds that "civilians could also be tried for infractions of military regulations or acts against military installations" although "in practice, few civilian detainees were placed under military control, and these were generally persons accused of terrorism or subversion" (Ibid.).

Additional and/or corroborating information could not be found among the sources currently available to the DIRB.


Embassy of Ecuador, Ottawa. 17 February 1993. Telephone Interview with Consul.

Hanratty, Dennis, M., ed. 1989. Area Handbook Series: Ecuador: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress.


Hanratty, Dennis, M., ed. 1989. Area Handbook Series: Ecuador: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, pp. 225-227.