With four weeks of Minister of the Interior, María Paula Romo says that one of the many things she wants to carry out is the new Plan for Citizen Security and Social Coexistence, which has been under construction for almost a year and will replace the current one that, according to her, it is coming to an end. In the new plan, which includes that of the northern border and provincial plans, it is committed to the fight against organized crime, the transnational and the internal security of the State.
Experts say there are no controls on the roads against drug trafficking. Is there a plan for control on the roads?
Yes, we have checkpoints, not only on the lines near the border, but along the roads.
Yes and also controls that are random, that are not on the frontier line.
Are they enough?
You can always say that they are insufficient, but we cannot have a policeman in every corner or in every kilometer of the road. In our fixed and random checkpoints on roads we identify many things: people who have arrest warrants, identification and recovery of vehicles, stolen motorcycles…
What type of technology or scanners does the police have to control?
We have an information system that is very important, because the technology related to scanners, border control and customs is very important but it is not the exclusive responsibility of the Police. I have met with the national director of Customs because we are looking for ways of coordination, because in areas such as Guayas, Customs is a factor related to security, for the entry and exit of products that can be prohibited and illegal. In the case of the police we have technology that allows us to investigate crime, intervene in organizations, have information about what is happening, but we also have technology that allows us to do prevention.
How much has drug trafficking influenced the rise in the rates of violence in the country?
We have some data that we have crossed to try to discover this. We are not going to achieve the goal of taking drugs out of the streets if the big drug trafficking organizations are not dismantled; that’s where the hits are most effective because that’s when we take millions of doses out of the market.
We have two neighbors who are the big suppliers of the drug: Colombia and Peru…
There is a scenario that is very complicated for Ecuador and we, as a National Police, have to dismantle large organizations, because it is an effective way to get less drugs to the streets. When the last link, which is micro-trafficking, is removed, it is likely that this link will be replaced. One of the most important tasks we have is to dismantle the large drug trafficking organizations and take away the mechanisms that have to continue operating; I mean money, contacts, companies through which they may be doing laundry; to large businesses that are organized within a criminal structure.
What is the policy to prevent the drug trafficking tentacles from reaching the police?
How this type of crime works what it does is that it infiltrates the institutions. Not only in institutions of order, but in those of the administration of justice, those of politics, of society in general. That is one of the great threats for which drug trafficking does not attack the health of people but against the rule of law, against democracy.
But what is going to be done?
The Police has internal mechanisms that do not guarantee that infiltrations do not happen, but it guarantees that we can find out and separate those who may be contaminated. There is an internal mechanism through the General Inspectorate and there are also permanent control mechanisms, for example, to rotate the personnel that work in certain dependencies and in certain areas; make confidence tests like those of the polygraph. We are aware that there are sites that are more contagious risks than others.
Three changes of Minister of the Interior in sixteen months of government. How to understand if the priority is safety?
In terms of security, it is necessary to differentiate very well the work that depends on the National Police and the one that depends on the Ministry of the Interior. The National Police is a very solid institution. The change of a minister does not mean a radical change of security; it does not mean that the Police is on its head.
Why does the Ministry of the Interior organize the provincial security committees that the governors used to do?
We have made two changes. One, that the call may be made by the Ministry to support the work of the governorates. The other change is that the National Security Plan will be incorporated. In the agreement previous material was said that each province would have a plan, but these plans should be articulated to a national plan .
Are participants in the safety committees change?
Participants are maintained, but there are certain changes such as what can be considered the presence of other authorities. Among those authorities are those responsible for the security of the different municipalities. It is the same instruction that has been given to the National Police.
In security we will work with local governments because the objective of security is above the legitimate differences we can have with other institutions such as sectional governments. In security we cannot afford to have parallel agendas and worse, separate agendas
Is it true that citizens’ committees are going to be created?
The role played by organized citizens in the fight against crime and also in an aspect that the plan strengthens a lot. The plan, which is in the last phase of construction, will be called the National Plan for Citizen Security and Social Coexistence. We are not only thinking about citizens having to collaborate with the Police alerting them of suspicious situations. When we talk about violence in our country, a little more than half of intentional homicides occur as a result of social violence rather than criminal violence. When we talk about citizen participation we are not talking about organizing to denounce, we are talking about how as citizens we learn to relate and solve our problems through other mechanisms that are less violent. Half of homicides in the country are given by the way we relate to people. (I)