Cooperation with the United States in the area of security begins to show the first results in Ecuador, after months of dialogues between the authorities of both countries, which intensified as of March of this year.
The rapprochement coincided with the crisis that the country was going through due to the narco-terrorist attacks of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on the northern border since November of the previous year and that reached its most tense point with the kidnapping and death of three journalists from El Comercio.
On March 26, the day of the abduction of the communicators, in Mataje (Esmeraldas), a visit to the highest level of the United States arrived in Quito. It was Joseph P. DiSalvo, military sub-commander, and Liliana Ayalde, foreign policy adviser to the Southern Command.
With these first meetings, the objectives of bilateral cooperation were outlined: fight against transnational drug trafficking and promote aid for the populations affected by natural disasters.
Almost a month later, on April 25, the Ministry of the Interior signed a memorandum of understanding with the Anti-Drug Agency (DEA) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service of the United States (ICE). “To exchange information and experiences for the fight against illicit drug trafficking and combat transnational organized crime “.
In the first week of May, the United States, through its Counter-Terrorism Assistance program of the State Department, donated equipment for the advanced microscopic inspection of travel documents and for the extraction of information from mobile devices to the Ministry of the Interior for $ 87,000.
With the Ministry of Defense, the agreement was worked on May 21, with the visit of Sergio de la Peña, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense of the US, who met with Minister Oswaldo Jarrin.
On June 27 and 28, the US Vice President, Mike Pence, visited the country and, in a meeting with President Lenin Moreno, decided to resume bilateral military cooperation, training and assistance to strengthen local capacity in their fight against “The shared threats of transnational organized crime and humanitarian disasters”.
And between September 5 and 11, the Orion P-3 arrives in Ecuador, a US aircraft with high technology that serves to detect illicit activities. Its operations are planned to fly over the maritime space and, although the flights of those days were a test, they left a sample of how they can fight organized crime.
The Minister of the Interior, María Paula Romo, reported that during the patrolling of Orión P-3, 4.8 tons of narcotics were detected and seized. The operating protocol of the aircraft is in charge of the Foreign Ministry, which will have it ready until the end of the month.
September 7, Jarrin travels to the facilities of the Southern Command and meets with the commander, Kurt Tidd. This appointment served to specify the flights of the Orion P-3 and the arrival of the hospital ship USNS Comfort that will attend in October in Esmeraldas.
Experts in security, defense and international relations think that the reactivation of cooperation with the United States. It is positive, especially after the last events on the northern border.
José Gallardo, former Minister of Defense, states that it was Ecuador’s mistake to have concluded the agreement that, from our air base in Manta, high-tech airplanes monitor air and maritime narco-trafficking, since Ecuador is in the middle from Colombia, which is the largest producer of cocaine in the world and Peru, the second producer of coca leaf in the world.
“That was a very serious error because Ecuador left him completely blind and without information, so, the one that, at least, comes a few days each month this US plane seems to me to be very good, but I think it is insufficient” added Gallardo.
Bertha García, professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, says that, after the drug problems that afflict Ecuador, the answer is to reopen relations with the United States and with other countries in Europe.
“Everyone is being harassed by international organized crime. In this regard, what is needed is support among countries that have a democratic vision on this. There is nothing wrong with asking or giving support in tasks such as intelligence, drug detection … “said Garcia.
Before the arrival of the US aircraft, the Ministry of Defense clarified that the flights are under the responsibility of the Ecuadorian Air Force and the Joint Command of the Armed Forces and that they will serve to obtain and deliver information to the state institutions, so that They can act in drug trafficking, illegal fishing and other crimes. Minister Oswaldo Jarrin insisted that the agreement with the United State does not implicate the installation of a military base in the country and that Ecuador protects its sovereignty respecting the Constitution and the laws in force. (I)