The elite teams of the Armed Forces and the Police of Ecuador constantly monitor roads and rivers in the north of the province of Esmeraldas. In the town of Mataje (border area), care is taken not to enter materials that can be used to make pumps. In the town of Selva Alegre there is joy in the population for the control of the uniformed.
A patrol with explosives experts from the Police Intervention and Rescue Group (GIR) is monitoring the road that reaches the Mataje parish, on the national border with Colombia. They have the slogan to stop any material that could be used to make a bomb, such as those used in the attacks that keep this sector of the country in distress. To ensure the safety of the uniformed, the Single Command of the Armed Forces and the National Police requested that the names and faces of the uniformed people protecting the border not be published.
At the checkpoint, everyone is very reserved and yesterday, after a rumor spread about the situation of El Comercio’s journalism team that was kidnapped in the sector, their responses were shorter. A Lieutenant of the GIR explained that they did not know any information that may be related to the status of journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paúl Rivas and driver Efraín Segarra.
The last time that the three were seen in the area was crossing that road to get to the town of Mataje. They did it on the morning of March 26 and when they made a report on the violence that Walter Arízala unleashed, alias “Guacho”, the main suspect in the attacks in Esmeraldas that left four people dead, 30 wounded and the kidnapping of the team from the middle of Quito communication, in events that occurred at different times.
Yesterday morning there was no unusual movement in the military and police contingents that provide protection to this Esmeralda town. In the control of Mataje there were the same number of troops as in previous days, the official vehicles were the same and the overflights with helicopters were similar to days gone by. Similar situation occurred in other areas of the province of Esmeraldas.
The security operations on the access roads to Limones, Progreso and Lita were not modified either. Here also it verifies that it does not enter material for the refinement of narcotics or any other substance considered prohibited that could be used by irregular groups. Since the beginning of the state of emergency, thanks to these controls, the confiscation of more than one ton of drugs, of more than 9,000 gallons of chemical precursors and diesel was achieved.
For Rear Admiral John Merlo, head of the Single Command, these measures have yielded results and the citizenship of the San Lorenzo and Eloy Alfaro cantons has even collaborated with the actions executed by the agents and soldiers of the Armed Forces, although this has meant a decrease in your economic income
In Palma Real there is calm
The best route to reach the parish of Palma Real (also border with Colombia) is the fluvial one. On this island, located 40 minutes from the San Lorenzo canton, this community rises that lives in the area with many needs, especially in regard to basic services. Yesterday morning, a team from the Police Intervention and Rescue Group (GIR) visited this town in the Eloy Alfaro canton, another of the jurisdictions governed by the state of emergency decreed by the Government.
His task was to monitor the work of his colleagues who arrived less than a week ago to strengthen surveillance. Palma Real, like other areas of the binational limit, is affected by the violence of the narco-guerrillas and the name of alias “Guacho” is not unknown to its inhabitants.
An incident that transpired on a national scale was when the local police arrested an alleged guerrilla for attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm. But 20 minutes after the capture, five unidentified people broke into the unit. The subjects destroyed the main gate, fired and threw a grenade at the gendarmes. No uniformed was wounded, but the aggressors freed the detainee and fled in a boat, without being able to be arrested. Because of this background, there is joy and calm in Palma Real due to the arrival of more GIR agents.
Situation of San Lorenzo
54% of the population of San Lorenzo resides in the urban zone of the canton, although in the city there is a deficit of basic services.
Most of its inhabitants are engaged in agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing, which account for a total of 48% of the workforce. Traders follow him, with 12% and then professors and artisans.
Other activities that generate resources in this canton are those related to the repair of vehicles and motorcycles.
On the border
Inhabitants of San Lorenzo
According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census, in San Lorenzo there are more than 42,000 inhabitants (20,934 women and 21,552 men); 24 years is the average age. The canton has the highest illiteracy rate in Esmeraldas (15%).
54% of the population lives in the urban zone of the canton, although with a deficit of basic services.
The Colombian population
The Municipality of San Lorenzo maintains that it has a fluctuating population of 25,000 Colombian citizens. For this reason, he assures that the number of inhabitants reaches 70,000 people. (I)