Ecuador’s defense minister said Tuesday that stronger Colombian military presence along the border would aid counter-narcotics initiatives.
According to Minister Miguel Carvajal, there is already a constant exchange of information relating to drug trafficking operations in the region. He pointed to the arrest of two FARC members in May as evidence of the collaboration between Ecuador and Colombia.
In late June, Ecuador’s Security Minister Homero Arellano said that his country was taking its own steps to strengthen security at its shared border with Colombia
Such confidence in bilateral relations marks a sharp turnaround from March 2008, when the two nations severed diplomatic ties. The crisis emerged after Colombian forces, under the guidance of then- defense minister, now President Juan Manuel Santos, crossed into Ecuador and killed 21 alleged rebels, including FARC’s second-in-command Luis Edgar Devia Silva, alias “Raul Reyes.”
In this regard, Carvajal assured reporters that “… we have been able not only to recover to pre-2008 levels in terms of cooperation and coordination. I would say they have deepened even more…”
An increased military presence along the 700km border could also help address the large number of Colombian refugees that flee south each year. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that there are around 115,000 Colombian refugees in Ecuador. More than half of those are thought to be undocumented. Most refugees flee fighting in the departments of Cauca and Valle del Cauca, where violence has increased over the past year.