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Book Published to Encourage Normalization of Relations between Ecuador and Colombia

By Dialogo
June 18, 2009

Quito, June 16 (EFE). - Today the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) presented the book “Ecuador y Colombia: Construyendo Puentes” (Ecuador and Colombia: Building Bridges), which is a collection of presentations, articles, and reflections seeking to “break the ice” in the relations between these countries. This perspective is shared by Grace Jaramillo, whose task consisted of compiling the results of round-table meetings that, under the same name as the book, gathered academic and public representatives of Ecuador and Colombia in September of last year. Both the book and forum were sponsored by the OAS, the UNPD, and the Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLASCO), which is headquartered in Ecuador, and which works with an International Relations Program coordinated by Jaramillo. The OAS representative in Ecuador, Antonio Araníbar, emphasized that the goal of the book and the forum which inspired it is to make "available to the public” the thoughts that arose after the presentations and articles shared by the participating experts. In the launch ceremony, Araníbar referred to the resolution of March 2008, when the OAS adopted the “Good Offices Mission” whose purpose is to bring the governments of Ecuador and Colombia together. Both countries broke off diplomatic relations on March 3, 2008, two days after the Colombian Army bombed a camp site of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Ecuadorian territory. That operation, carried out without previous notice, was considered by Ecuador to be a violation of its sovereignty. According to the OAS representative, “the task of re-establishing relations involves the people and civil societies,” so the “Good Offices Mission” works to “promote dialogue” between different parties, and seeks “to construct bridges, to re-establish relations.” However, Antonio Araníbar said that the “fraternity and mutual respect” between the peoples of both countries have remained intact, and they have even “strengthened,” despite the events in Angostura a year ago. The presentation of the book was also attended by the UNPD representative in Ecuador, José Manuel Hermida, who confirmed the “commitment” of his organization in promoting “knowledge and comprehension” of the relations across the Colombian-Ecuadorian border. Hermida emphasized the "vulnerability" of the situation in the Ecuadorian border, and he spoke about the state of “exclusion and abandonment” that people and towns in that area are suffering, and that 8.5 per cent of its inhabitants are Colombian. On behalf of the UNPD, a representative confirmed the objective of seeking "human integration, development, and security" in the North Ecuadorian border, where a “complex situation of violence and insecurity exists.” The OAS representative announced that the book " Ecuador y Colombia: Construyendo Puentes " will also be available soon in the capitals of three Ecuadorian provinces in the border area (Sucumbíos, Carchi and Esmeraldas).