“FARC Presence in Ecuador Is Intermittent”: Defense Minister Ponce

By Dialogo
March 02, 2011

Ecuadorean Defense Minister Javier Ponce said on 28 February in Bogotá – at the end of a meeting with his Colombian counterpart, Rodrigo Rivera – that the presence of the FARC on the border is intermittent and that the number of rebel camps found there is on the decline.

“It’s a fact that we’ve dismantled a significant series of (FARC) camps. We’re continuing to do so, but we’re convinced that it’s a matter of intermittent presence on our territory, and in that regard, we’re combatting it,” Ponce said, speaking to reporters.

“The number of (rebel) camps has decreased in recent months; we don’t have an exact accounting, but it’s not only a decrease produced by pressure from our armed forces, but rather because the FARC presence there is continually decreasing,” he emphasized.

The Ecuadorean minister recounted a “frank and open dialogue” with Rivera, in which the two governments “shared restricted information about the activity of criminal organizations in that border area,” he said, and agreed “to work on developing a binational border-security plan.”

“It’s fundamental to be able to exchange and maintain information between the Colombian and Ecuadorean armed forces in real time, in order to combat all these irregular groups,” Ponce concluded.

For his part, Rivera announced that on 14 March, the two governments will hold another meeting in Quito “to agree on the text of the Binational Border-Security Plan and establish the concrete conditions for coordination between the military and police forces of both countries.”

Quito broke off ties with Bogotá as a consequence of the 1 March 2008 Colombian military operation against a camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a communist group, on Ecuadorean soil, in which twenty-five people died, including rebel Raúl Reyes, the guerrilla group’s second-in-command.

Correa and Santos fully reestablished relations between their two countries on 26 November 2010, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) in Georgetown. Ties had been reestablished at the chargé d’affaires level in November 2009.