Ecuador Sends New Military Units to Border with Colombia

By Dialogo
November 07, 2011

Two hundred Ecuadorean military personnel have been deployed to regions along the Colombian border in order to reinforce Army activities intended to prevent the infiltration of Colombian irregular groups, the daily El Universo reported, citing a military commander.

The personnel make up two Ecuadorean Air Force (FAE) contingents, each with 100 Airmen, and have been sent to the provinces of Sucumbíos (in northern Ecuador) and Esmeraldas (on the Pacific coast), the top Army commander in the border area, General Wagner Bravo, told the daily.

“We’re bringing a complete company to support the land operations directed by the national Army,” Bravo indicated in regard to the unit deployed in Sucumbíos.

One of this group’s missions will be to monitor clandestine access points along the border, around 700 km long, where the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, gangs in the service of drug traffickers, and smugglers operate, according to the authorities.

Bravo, head of Operational Command No. 1 North, rejected the idea that the transfer of the contingents is part of a militarization of that area.

“We’re not militarizing the border, we’re giving importance to the situation that exists along the border (…) unfortunately, Colombia has a problem, and we don’t want this to spill over into Ecuador; for that reason, we’re deploying the necessary elements,” the officer indicated.

In August, the Ecuadorean Interior Ministry announced the construction of a police immigration checkpoint at the harbor of San Lorenzo (Esmeraldas) to regulate the influx of people coming from Colombia.

Ecuador has around 13,000 military personnel deployed on its northern border, according to the authorities.