New Ecuadorean Ambassador to Colombia Looks to the Future

By Dialogo
January 10, 2011

The new Ecuadorean ambassador in Bogotá, Raúl Vallejo, promised “to look to the future” in the bilateral relationship, now fully reestablished following the crisis that broke out in March 2008 due to a Colombian attack on the FARC guerrilla group on Ecuadorean territory.

“The Ecuadorean government, with the full reestablishment of relations (…) wants to strengthen the historical ties that have united us, stanch the wounds of the past, and look to the future,” Vallejo said in his first remarks to Colombian journalists after taking up his post on 6 January.

He added that “Ecuador’s policy is not to permit any irregular group to establish itself on its territory, whether they are paramilitaries, drug traffickers, or guerrillas of any persuasion and under any name.”

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa broke off diplomatic relations with Bogotá in March 2008, in reaction to the Colombian army’s bombardment of a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp on Ecuadorean territory, which left twenty-five dead, including Raul Reyes, the guerrilla group’s second-ranking leader.

Ties between Colombia and Ecuador were reestablished at the chargé d’affaires level in November 2009, and a year later, on 26 November, Correa and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, fully reestablished relations.

Vallejo also said that the fight against drug trafficking along the bilateral border should be pursued separately. “The counternarcotics police in Colombia, the counternarcotics police in Ecuador: we each want to work in our own country, fighting drug trafficking,” he declared in a tacit allusion to the border crop fumigations rejected by Quito in the past.

In addition, he announced that he will stress improving the binational trade balance, which is unfavorable to his country at the moment. Between January and October 2010, Ecuadorean sales to Colombia amounted to 651.8 million dollars, and purchases to 1.6826 billion, according to the Central Bank in Quito.

Vallejo affirmed that “our neighbors are absolutely welcome in our country,” expressing his confidence that “at some point” Ecuador will cease requiring police records from Colombians wishing to enter.