Ecuador Activates Two Military Detachments on Border with Colombia
By Dialogo February 01, 2011
Ecuador has activated two military detachments on its border with Colombia in order to neutralize the infiltration of guerrillas and other illegal groups from that country, the Defense Ministry announced.
The garrisons, each with a capacity of sixty soldiers, are located in the localities of Santa Bárbara and Lita, in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Imbabura (in northern Ecuador) respectively.
Defense Minister Javier Ponce, who inaugurated the facilities, said that the objective is “to have an extensive and well-financed network (…) that makes it possible to halt the (Colombian) irregular groups” that cross the border.
The head of the Armed Forces Joint Command, Gen. Ernesto González, indicated that one of these organizations is Front 48 of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a Marxist group).
“It’s a front that has as its chief mission logistical supply for the Southern Block,” one of the FARC’s largest structures, the general indicated.
The posts cost 800,000 dollars each, and their construction by the Army engineering corps began five months ago, according to the Ministry.
Ecuador has around seven thousand military personnel deployed on its 720-km border with Colombia, according to the authorities.
A report by the Ecuadorean Armed Forces, published two weeks ago, indicated that the institution dismantled 126 clandestine FARC bases during 2010, as part of operations in which three irregulars were killed.
The bases were discovered in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Esmeraldas, it added.
Ecuador reinforced its military presence in the border sector following the Colombian bombardment of a clandestine FARC base in Sucumbíos, on 1 March 2008, which killed the guerrilla group’s second-ranking leader, Raúl Reyes, and twenty-four others.
As a result of that attack, Quito broke off relations with Bogotá, but ties were fully restored on 26 November, after having been reactivated at the chargé d’affaires level a year earlier.