Ecuador said on Wednesday that it has reinforced its northern border with
Colombia amid a tense dispute over Bogota’s plans to open seven
military bases to US troops.
Ecuadorean officials said the 1,200 soldiers were dispatched to
Esmeraldas province to support the 10,000 security forces already
patrolling the border area due to increased drug, weapons and fuel
trafficking in recent months.
“The mission is to restore public
safety,” said Lieutenant Sergio Torres, an “Operation North” commander.
Captain Jose Miño, another commander, said illegal activity in the
border area has increased by 20 to 30 percent.
The troops will be in the area for at least a month, according to Ecuavisa television.
announcement came as top Colombian military commander Freddy Padilla
said talks between Bogota and Washington over US access to Colombian
bases for counter-drug operations could be finalized as early as this
Ecuador and Venezuela have led opposition to the plan,
with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warning Monday that the “winds of
war” were beginning to blow in the region because of the accord.
7,000 Ecuadoran soldiers and 3,541 policemen are deployed along the
720-kilometer (447-mile) border with Colombia, where insurgent groups,
paramilitaries and drug traffickers are known to operate.
has undertaken an ambitious plan to modernize its armed forces, after
Colombia staged a cross-border raid into Ecuadorean territory in March
last year to destroy a rebel camp, after which Ecuador cut ties with
The modernization has included the purchase of
speedboats, helicopters, six unmanned aerial vehicles, 24 Brazilian
Super Tucano combat aircraft, two frigates and Chinese radars.