Trough Ecuador, for all its control weaknesses, a large part of the hundreds of tons of drugs produced by the neighboring Colombian departments of Nariño and Putumayo, which share about 700 kilometers of common border, go abroad.
According to the latest report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Onudc), these two departments have increased their coca plantations in recent years. By the end of 2017, they had 44 percent of Colombia’s narco-cultures; that is, 75,324 of the 171,000 hectares of coca crops counted in that country.
But it is Nariño, which borders the provinces of Esmeraldas and Carchi, which increased the plantations the most and, therefore, is the area of greatest dispute over the drug routes between guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN), drug traffickers and FARC dissidents such as Walther Arízala, aka Guacho.
According to experts consulted by this newspaper, the biggest problem in the country at this time is drug trafficking and, therefore, the greatest concern should be directed to combat narco-licit activities because Ecuador is the great bridge of Colombian drug shipment to the world through ports, airports and the coastal area, through speedboats, fishing boats or semi-submersibles.
General Ramiro Mantilla, former commander of the Police; Admiral Fernando Donoso, former commander of the Navy; and Oswaldo Domínguez, former commander of the Ecuadorian Air Force, consider it necessary to improve the country’s technification in order to face the threats of drug trafficking.
Dominguez insists that the country should not be focused on looking for Guacho, the FARC dissident who kidnapped and murdered five Ecuadorian civilians, but to design a true state policy on security and against drug trafficking.
That is why, according to General Mantilla, it is the main threat that the country has and that is responsible for the violence both in the border area and in the rest of the national territory.
Domínguez and Mantilla agree with Donoso that it has been Colombia, due to the lack of control of its territory that borders Ecuador, has allowed the advance of drug trafficking.
According to Mantilla, where today are the largest coca plantations, on the border with Ecuador, there is no Colombian military or police infrastructure. There, they indicate, they send the guerrillas and the narcos. In Ecuador, he says, there is no control of the territory either. Although the drug routes are known, there are no fixed controls for the review of all types of vehicles that serve drug trafficking. According to the general, he left a plan to implement 28 integrated controls with scanners, cameras and drug detection dogs.
Glyphosate against coca
The Colombian government of President Iván Duque will resume the aerial fumigations of the coca plantations with the herbicide glyphosate, suspended since 2015, due to the claims of the residents of the border that the chemical caused them health problems.
The decision had already been made in June by the government of the outgoing president, Juan Manuel Santos. On that occasion, the Ministry of Defense reported that the measure was necessary in view of the drastic increase in narco-crops in the departments bordering Ecuador.
According to the report of the office against drugs and crime of the UN, coca crops in Nariño are greater than those in the entire Peruvian territory: 43,900 hectares.
But the United States, in its report, indicates that there are more crops than the UN report says. (I)