Minister of Defense of Ecuador, Dr. Wellington Sandoval, talks exclusively with Diálogo Magazine. The civil servant talks to the magazine about security issues, migration, and transnational matters.
*Border control is a challenge for Ecuador.*
The Minister of Defense assures Diálogo that the border control of Ecuador with other countries is a hurdle. “It's a great challenge. Historically, we have had problems on the southern border with Peru that have been set right advantageously. In the past few years, we have been involved in dealing with border control at the northern border, because of the serious and painful internal problem that our sister country Colombia has been having.
The fact that many of our Colombian brothers—more than 50,000 of them—have crossed the border as refugees has made it necessary for us to support them. Poverty has increased for the same reason. There are people who have been dispossessed, there is a lack of jobs, and Plan Ecuador is confronting the problem. It will become possible to recover from our problems and to protect Ecuadorean citizens at a government level with the aid of the armed forces that are already present.”
*Ecuador prevents narcotrafficking*
On the other hand, Sandoval was emphatic in pointing out that Ecuador, as signatory of international conventions with the United Nations and with the Andean countries, has the obligation of defending the country and protecting it against drug trafficking.
He also indicated that there exists the obligation of preventing the trafficking of drugs and weapons. However, he pointed out that “this cannot be Ecuador's action as an individual nation; it must be a multinational action."
At this time, the Minister commented that the immediate problem confronting his country,” is the drug trafficking corridor in the northern sector. On the one hand, it happens that insurgent forces make incursions into Ecuador for rest or for meetings. Logically, without wanting to get involved in going against what recognizing the free will of the people and government of Colombia mean, we do have to protect ourselves and maintain our sovereignty. We cannot allow this to continue; to do so would be a very serious matter.”
*Democracy in Latin America is stronger*
The Minister of Defense of Ecuador believes it is important that the changes the world is coming into alter geo-strategies, which will have an effect on people, institutions and states.
“The important part of this is us becoming aware that in South America, democracy has become more robust, and that we all have to act to maintain and fortify it even more, because it is an elemental part of rational coexistence and of the rights of the people.”
Due to this, asserts Sandoval, “in the future we are going to have to change the concept of security and start basing ourselves more on the individual; on protecting individuals and their opportunities for learning, education, housing, development and economic fortitude. The fact of there being less inequity will, with full security, fortify the basic concepts behind security and defense.”
“We think that security is based on the human being and in giving them opportunities and benefits.”
About the work of the armed forces in this area, the Secretary of State explained that the functions of the institutions are summed up “in maintaining the sovereignty of the country, as well as conserving the internal and external order of the country.”
Finally, concerning the ideological changes operating in the region, Sandoval says that ”there is a political evolution that is a response to the problems of social inequity, poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunities for children and youth.”
To see interview transcripts, please click on this link: "Challenges of Our Era":http://22.214.171.124/index.php/article/94/.