Although Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has committed more resources to combating drug trafficking on its southern border with Ecuador, some officials say the response is not enough. Santos called President Lenin Moreno following Tuesday’s deadly bombing, pledging more military patrols in the area.
Three marines died in the roadside blast and 11 more were injured, two critically.
“We need help from Colombia since this is their problem,” says Esmeraldas Province Governor Pablo Hadathy. “There is very little control of the border by Colombian authorities. This has allowed the local traffickers to team up with international cartels and establish a base of operations. We have not experienced the kind of terrorist activities in Ecuador that we are witnessing and we need to stop it before it spreads.”
Hadathy said that residents of Ecuadorian communities border are being forced to leave their homes due to the violence. “Ecuadorians have never had to run from this kind of violence before. Colombians are accustomed to it, we are not.”
According to Ecuador Interior Minister César Navas and Attorney General Carlos Baca, the drug violence comes from renegade groups of FARC, the Colombian guerrilla group that demobilized 14,000 forces last year following a peace agreement with the government. Nevas says the former guerrillas have joined forces with Mexican drug cartels and Colombian drug gangs.
“We are committing more police and military personnel to the region in response to the violence and working closely with our Colombia counterparts,” he says. “We understand the dangers we face and we are dedicated to defeating it.”
Ecuador already has 12,000 personnel in the area.
In addition to Tuesday’s deadly bombing, bombings of public buildings in border-area towns and firefights have left several Ecuadorian injured.
Nevas says that the growing Colombian drug trade wants to control the border area in Esmeraldas Province to protect its drug transport routes to Central America and the U.S. “It’s important in their shipping route of raw materials from Peru and Bolivia and for forward shipping of the finished product, mostly to the U.S.,” he says.”They also want access to U.S. dollars, which are available inEcuador.”
Nevas and others also blame the recent violence on expansion of coca production and drug processing in southern Colombia.