Peru and Ecuador Agree to Speed Up Mine Removal and Execute Anti-Drug Plan

By Dialogo
March 07, 2011

The foreign ministers of Peru, José García Belaúnde, and Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño, agreed in Quito on 3 March to speed up mine removal along the border and execute a joint plan against drug trafficking in that region.

“We’ve asked the defense ministries and armed forces of our countries to speed up” the removal of anti-personnel mines “as much as they possibly can,” Patiño said at a press conference with his Peruvian colleague.

He added that the two defense ministers, Javier Ponce (Ecuador) and Jaime Thorne (Peru), will meet “in the next few days to define the needs” related to that task, which began in 2003 with support from the European Union (EU) and the Organization of American States (OAS).

“Perhaps it’s necessary to commit more resources, more equipment, more training, more people, but the longer the mine-removal process goes on, the greater the risk that those mines shift due to weather issues,” the Ecuadorean minister warned.

Ecuadorean and Peruvian military personnel are carrying out the mine-removal work as part of a peace agreement signed in Brasilia in October 1998. That pact established peace between the two countries, which had maintained a long-standing territorial conflict that led them to fight several wars, the most recent in early 1995 in the Amazonian Condor mountain range.

The foreign ministers also agreed to implement a “joint plan of action” against drug trafficking, smuggling, and human trafficking in the border area, which stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Amazonian jungle, García Belaúnde indicated for his part.

That initiative was agreed on in 2009 but has not yet been executed, the Peruvian foreign minister recalled, indicating that authorities from both countries will meet no later than 15 April for that purpose.