Correa Returns to Colombia Following Restoration of Relations

By Dialogo
December 17, 2010

I am surprised by the help from the Ecuadorans but very grateful. It is a great help to our victims may God truly bless the Ecuadoran people and both governments so that may continue on the right and good path that will give peace and tranquility to us Colombians and to the whole world. May God bless them. Chao.
On 15 December, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, his ambassador-designate Raúl Vallejo, and Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño made their first visit to Colombia following the restoration of relations, broken off in 2008 due to a Colombian military operation on Ecuadorean territory.

The visit, which focused on the delivery of aid for victims of the rains in Colombia, provided the occasion for both presidents to declare their readiness to approve the respective ambassadors.

“The names have already been officially presented. In diplomatic protocol, approval has to be given. We don’t see any problem, at least on the Ecuadorean side,” Correa said in the area of La Victoria, near Cali (in southwestern Colombia), where he personally delivered the aid packets.

Two weeks ago, the Colombian government nominated Fernando Arboleda, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Justice, as its ambassador to Ecuador.
Santos affirmed that on his return to Bogotá, he would grant approval to the designated Ecuadorean ambassador, Raúl Vallejo, a former education minister.
“Then things will be completely normalized,” he said.

Correa arrived in Cali, where he met Santos, in the morning. Together, the two presidents flew over La Victoria and then spoke with its inhabitants.

Wearing jeans and an orange vest, Correa declared, “We only want to make ourselves present and give a fraternal embrace to the Colombian people. We’ve brought some supplies, and we’ll send more subsequently. It’s a small amount of aid, despite our efforts, for the magnitude of what’s happened.”

The rains in Colombia have left nearly 280 dead and have affected two million people so far this year, according to the latest official figures.

In La Victoria, Correa delivered seven tons of humanitarian aid. “Count on your Ecuadorean brothers, without doubting for an instant. We have a shared past, a present that very much unites us, and it’s now time to look for a future together,” he insisted.

Santos responded by thanking “the Ecuadorean people” once again for the aid.

“We’re reestablishing relations the way things should be, because we are brother peoples,” he added.

The aid brought by Correa goes beyond the humanitarian framework of solidarity and represents his administration’s first direct diplomatic gesture toward Colombia subsequent to the bilateral tensions.

This is Correa’s second visit to Colombia since the rupture of relations. On 7 August, when bilateral ties had been restored at the chargé d’affaires level, the Ecuadorean president attended Santos’s inauguration in Bogotá.

Correa and Santos fully reestablished relations on 26 November, on the sidelines of the meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) in Georgetown.

Ecuador broke off ties with Colombia as a consequence of the 1 March 2008 Colombian military operation against a base of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerrilla group, on Ecuadorean soil, in which twenty-five people died, including rebel leader Raúl Reyes.

Ties were reestablished at the chargé d’affaires level in November 2009.




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