Despite impressive gains of the last decade, President Lenin Moreno said Friday that supporting law enforcement requires more resources than ever.
In a ceremony honoring the country’s national police, Moreno also announced new agreements with the U.S. to fight drug trafficking on Ecuador’s border with Colombia.
Moreno congratulated the country’s police command for Ecuador’s ranking of second in Latin America for the lowest murder and violent crime rate — only behind Chile — and said Ecuadorian police are now the third best paid force in the region.
“We have made great strides but now we are facing fresh challenges from the drug cartels,” he said. “We must devote the resources necessary to defeat the threat. We have witnessed their attacks on our people in Esmeraldas Province and understand that we are living in a new era and must be prepared for it.”
In addition to announcing increased spending on law enforcement, Moreno, said new agreements with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency are essential for fighting the illegal drug threat. The agreements were signed earlier this week during the visit to Quito of U.S. Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon.
Among those attending the Quito ceremony Friday was U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Todd Chapman.
Chapman said the agreements will provide assistance through training and intelligence gathering programs. “Our commitment is to provide greater security to the people of Ecuador,” he said, noting growing drug cultivation and production in southern Colombia. “We are working to combat drug trafficking and the violence that goes with it.”
Ecuador Minister of the Interior César Navas said that relations with the U.S. have “improved dramatically” in recent months and that he expects to see “excellent results” in the fight against drug trafficking.”
Navas said that there is no talk of reestablishing a U.S. military presence in Ecuador. “That is prohibited by our constitution.”
Until 2010, the U.S. operated a drug surveillance operation in Manta but former president Rafael Correa refused to renew the lease.