Ecuador and Colombia announced today that they will strengthen cooperation on security and intelligence exchange at the common border, following the attack that left three Ecuadorian soldiers dead and seven wounded on Tuesday.
In the last three months, aggressions against Ecuadorian security forces and structures stationed in the border region with Colombia have been intensified, attributed to armed groups related to drug trafficking and that give shelter to that activity, a phenomenon that has forced hedgerows to unite efforts to fight it.
The Ecuadorian city of Tulcán, on the border with Colombia, today hosted an extraordinary meeting of the Binational Border Commission (Combifron), a security coordination mechanism between the two countries as a result of this week’s attack in the province of Esmeraldas, which caused the death of the uniformed.
“We have concluded this high-level meeting with the security and defense authorities of the two countries, Colombia and Ecuador, with very important conclusions for the security of the border area,” said the Ecuadorian Deputy Minister of National Defense, Felipe Vega, at the end of the meeting.
He said that ways to strengthen security along the divide were analyzed, especially in the Colombian department of Nariño and the Ecuadorian provinces of Esmeraldas and Carchi.
“We have established a series of agreements that will result in an increase in security personnel in the border area,” he said.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced last month that he would redouble the presence of troops in the border area at a binational summit held in the Colombian town of Pereira with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno.
Ecuador had demanded that the forces have a permanent presence in their detachments along the territorial boundary and that they not only patrol and return to their bases tens of kilometers north of the demarcation.
The border between the two countries, 600 kilometers, is a porous area for the smuggling of drugs, products and people, and is largely controlled by groups that are engaged in smuggling using different waterways.
The Ecuadorian Deputy Minister of Defense said that the actions approved today by both governments include the exchange of information, the training of forces and the transfer of experiences of the military and police forces.
Colombian counterpart, Anibal Fernandez, confirmed that “this analysis at the border has allowed us to make decisions”, in terms of “strengthening intelligence, generating operations and coordinated actions that result in greater security for the region.”
The Colombian official spoke of “specific commitments in terms of information sharing, coordinated intelligence centers” between the security forces of both countries, and “advance in the exchange of experiences in the field of human rights.”
The meeting took place in the 31st Brigade “Andes”, of the Ecuadorian Army in Tulcán, capital of the Andean province of Carchi.
In addition, the Deputy Ministers of Defense of both countries participated, as well as representatives of the Interior, Foreign Ministries and Intelligence Units of the two countries.
At the beginning the responsible of both parties observed a minute of silence in memory of the deceased soldiers.
At the end of January, the Ecuadorian Army reinforced the security in the Colombian land division after an explosion against the main police station in the town of San Lorenzo, in the province of Esmeraldas, which left 28 injured and severe damage to infrastructure.
The security officials of both nations ratified today to continue with the agenda of meetings framed in the Binational Annual Operating Plan to follow up on the measures aimed at combating aggressions on both sides of the border.
The Ecuadorian Constitution expressly prevents forces of another nation from carrying out activities or establishing bases on national soil, considering that it would be a violation of their sovereignty. (I)