Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa wants a greater Colombian military presence at the shared border and asks President-elect Juan Manuel Santos to reinforce border security to avoid further spillover of Colombia’s armed conflict onto Ecuadorean territory.
“We demand more control at the common border from President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, who triumphed in the runoff election on Sunday,” Correa said.
“If the president-elect of Colombia and his government choose the armed way, that is their sovereign decision, but they have to look after the border so that we don’t get involved in a problem that hurts us, but is not ours,” Correa said.
“If we can help with something to find a pacific solution, they can always count on us,” the Ecuadorean president said.
“We have almost 20 garrisons and Colombia only has three” stationed at the border, Correa said, adding that the region “should have Colombian state presence” because Ecuador does not want to become involved in “a conflict that is not ours and of which we are victims, not accomplices.”
Correa stated that his administration spends “more than $100 million a year to reinforce security at the border with Colombia, which is some 680 kilometers, along which guerrilla groups and drugs and arms traffickers operate.”
The Ecuadorean head of state reiterated his desire to reinstate diplomatic relations with Colombia “without forgetting the past, but not viewing Colombia with bitterness nor indignation, but rather looking to the future and knowing that Ecuador and Colombia have traditionally been brother countries with a common origin.”
“Our relations [with Colombia] were at the point of normalizing, there was a road map … The truth is that ‘the little ball’ is in Colombia’s court,” Correa said.
Ecuador severed diplomatic ties with Colombia in March 2008, following a Colombian army raid on a FARC camp on Ecuadorean territory. Some 26 people died in the raid, including FARC leader “Raul Reyes” and an Ecuadorean citizen. Ecuador slammed the attack, claiming Colombia had undermined its sovereignty, but started to rebuild fractured relations in the latter part of 2009. The dialogue was suspended during Colombia’s presidential elections.
Matters are complicated by the fact that an Ecuadorean court issued an arrest warrant for now President-elect Santos, for his part as then-defense minister in the 2008 raid.
Santos, during his campaign for presidency, said that he was “proud” of the 2008 bombing, leading Correa to comment that if the former defense minister were to win the presidency it “will be a problem,” for bilateral relations between the neighboring countries.
Nevertheless Correa called Santos to congratulate him on his victory at the polls in Sunday’s second round presidential election.
Ecuador has insisted that the restoration of diplomatic relations with Colombia is dependent on Colombian authorities providing more information on allegations of FARC activity within Ecuador’s borders, as well as handing over the hard drives of slain FARC leader’s “Raul Reyes” and other evidence allegedly found during the 2008 raid.
Correa, however, claimed that Colombia “has not fulfilled this request that they promised.”
Previously, Colombia has said that handing over the hard drives belonging to the dead FARC leader is not possible, because the prosecutor general is using them as evidence.
Following his election Santos expressed his hope of establishing positive relations with Ecuador, “I hope that if I win [the presidential elections] I can have good relations with the president of Venezuela, with the president of Ecuador.”
Correa responded that he too hopes for good relations between the neighbor nations, but added that actions speak louder than words.