Ecuadorean Military Presents Proposal for Reforms to Public Safety Act

By Dialogo
January 26, 2011

The head of the Joint Command of the Ecuadorean Armed Forces, Luis González Villareal, has presented to the International Affairs Commission a proposal for reforms to the Public Safety Act, reforms with which the military is seeking to regulate the Armed Forces’ participation in preserving the country’s internal security.

Since 2010, the Ecuadorean military has been called out into the streets of the country’s major cities to collaborate with the National Police in responding to insecurity, affected by increasing manifestations of crime. In addition, it has participated in responding to invasions of public lands, especially in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s chief Pacific port.

González indicated that the participation of uniformed personnel should not be discretionary, but rather subsidiary, and he stated that the military has presented this plan with the idea and criterion that security is something interdependent, that is, that in order to have “comprehensive security” in the country, “we need the participation not only of the Armed Forces and the National Police, but of all state actors and institutions.”

Faced with the situation of insecurity that Ecuador is experiencing, he commented that it is necessary to offer “a multi-dimensional response, that is, a response covering all aspects and by all state institutions.” “This is how simple the Armed Forces’ participation in internal security is; it’s not something new, since we’ve being going along participating in it, and we have our own planning, but we want to provide it with the appropriate legal framework,” he noted.

González indicated that there are practically no differences between the proposal by the Armed Forces and the Defense Ministry and the proposal by the executive branch for reforms to the Public Safety Act. “At base, the Armed Forces’ participation is specified, and perhaps procedurally, the Armed Forces have to be requested by the Public and State Security Council. That would be the fundamental difference,” he noted.

In his opinion, the military’s participation in support of the National Police, in order to respond to the insecurity in the country, has to be temporary. “We in the Armed Forces will participate in the state’s internal security on a subsidiary basis, not permanently, on subsidiary missions, in support of the National Police, and upon the Head of State’s request to the Public and State Security Council,” he specified.

This year, he said, the Armed Forces will pay close attention to what happens on the borders with Colombia and Peru in relation to drug-trafficking activity, another of the factors causing insecurity in the country.