Corruption, insufficient resources, and difficult terrain on Ecuador’s border with Colombia allowed FARC guerrillas to jump the boundary and use the country for refuge from Colombian security forces according to a WikiLeaks cable.
A cable dated December 21, 2009, sent from the embassy in Quito, Ecuador and released via El Universo read that drug trafficking and illegal armed groups, specifically the FARC, were the principal challenge for Ecuador’s counter-terrorism and security forces on the northern border.
However, insufficient resources, corruption among members of the Ecuadorian military and police assigned to the area, the challenging border region terrain (which includes coastal mangrove swamps, the Andes mountains and the Amazon jungle), and a tense bilateral relationship with Colombia made it difficult to thwart cross-border incursions read the cable.
The cable also suggests that the FARC’s economic impact allowed it to buy silence and compliance in the region that sees high levels of poverty.
The FARC regularly used Ecuadorian territory for rest, medical aid, weapons and explosives procurement, recuperation, training, as well as coca processing and limited planting and production, the cable states.
Colombian refugees and Ecuadorians living in these northern border areas were directly and indirectly affected by the presence of these illegal groups.
In a separate series of cables released earlier this week, it was suggested that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa possibly received funding from the FARC for his 2006 presidential election campaign. This potential sympathies were highlighted more by the rejection of an offer by the Spanish government to install a radar on the Colombia-Ecuador border in order to combat the FARC.
Relations between Colombia and Ecuador have recently been normalized after the unauthorized March 2008 bombing by the Colombian military of a FARC camp in Ecuador that killed the FARC’s second-in-command “Raul Reyes,” heavily damaged ties.
On March 1, 2011 the defense ministers from the two countries announced the creation of a bilateral coalition on border security.