President Juan Manuel Santos said Thursday he appreciates Ecuador and Panama collaborating with Colombia on fighting crime and increasing border security.
“I have to acknowledge and thank the collaboration of the government of Ecuador. It has been impeccable and thanks to this collaboration we are being much more effective on both sides of the border against any kind of illegal group, against any form of crime,” Santos said Thursday from the city Quidbo, in the western state of Choco.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said back in August that Ecuador “insist the authorities of the Government of Colombia to strengthen their presence on the border. Know that they have been doing but also indicate that these facts are insufficient.”
Patino called on Colombia to strengthen border control after a confrontation occurred in the Ecuadorean town of Puerto Mestanza bordering the Colombian state, Putumayo. An unidentified Colombian criminal group opened fire on an Ecuadorian military patrol, killing a lieutenant and wounding a soldier.
However, Santos said Thursday that the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, is a friend “and stressed that the forces of the two countries” are collaborating like never before “to fight” against the common enemy of crime.
Santos also voiced his appreciation to the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, saying “we have also worked, and how to jointly can be more effective in the fight against terrorism, to extort, to hit our citizens and criminals who prey on the border” He continued on to thank Panama for the increased collaboration with Colombia, “I thank you from here in Quidbo, the President of Panama permanent readiness and collaboration with Colombian security forces for the two countries can continue fighting all crime,” he said.
This year, a new Colombian brigade has been assigned to combat drug trafficking near the Panama border, an area highly affected by criminal groups, and prevent other criminal activities such as mining, kidnapping and extortion.