Colombia and Ecuador Sign Plan to Strengthen Border Security

By Dialogo
June 14, 2011

Colombia and Ecuador signed a bi-national action program to strengthen security in the border area, where they also deployed health and education campaigns.

The document was signed by the defense ministers of Colombia, Rodrigo Rivera, and Ecuador, Javier Ponce, in the Ecuadorean locality of Puerto El Carmen, in the Amazonian province of Sucumbíos (in northeastern Ecuador).

That region borders on the Colombian department of Putumayo, where the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a Marxist guerrilla group) operate.

The two countries agreed to promote cooperation and the development of their capabilities to respond to common threats, the exchange of information, and the establishment of border service centers to promote integration, according to the Ecuadorean ministry.

The program, with twenty-one lines of action, complements the objective of elevating the political and strategic level of the bilateral relationship in security matters, the Colombian ministry indicated.

The two nations will also adopt protocols for regulating the interaction of security forces with the inhabitants of the border area with regard to human rights and for promoting social projects.

In that context, Ecuadorean medical personnel plan to provide care to around five thousand people in Puerto El Carmen, on the banks of the Putumayo River, which marks the border, while the Education Ministry will provide materials and breakfast to students.

Similar activities are underway in Puerto Ospina (Colombia), which was also visited by Rivera and Ponce, across from the Ecuadorean locality.

In March 2008, Colombian troops made an incursion into Sucumbíos to attack a clandestine FARC camp, killing twenty-five people, including rebel leader Raúl Reyes, one Ecuadorean, and four Mexicans.

The bombing led Quito to break off diplomatic relations, which were fully restored in November.

It's always nice to see countries that faced bilateral turbulences recently adressing their common issues.

South American Countries have to acknowledge that they must cooperate in order to improve their own internal security due to the porous boundaries they share, specially the Amazon.

I hope the governments will be able and willing to implement politics that are able to improve security, diminish smuggling and drug trafficking, while taking care of the inhabitants of the border areas.