Ecuador’s border wall controversy

Jun 5, 2017 | 5 comments

Peru is protesting a wall being built by the Ecuadorian government in Huaquillas, opposite the Peruvian town of Aguas Verdes, claiming it violates a 1998 peace treaty. Ecuador says the wall is necessary to stop smuggling.

Workers build a wall in Huaquillas. (El Universo)

The concrete border wall, approved by the government of former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, is being built on the Rio Zarumilla, which separates Huaquillas and Aguas Verdes. The wall,will be four meters high but, unlike another proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, will stretch for a distance of only 2,000 meters instead of 2,000 miles.

According to Peruvian authorities, the treaty signed in 1998 following the war between Peru and Ecuador, forbids the construction of any structures between Huaquillas and Aguas Verdes and Rio Zarumilla. “As mandated, this area should be a free zone on the international frontier,” says the Peruvian foreign ministry. “We have demanded an explanation from the Ecuadorian government but have so far not received one.”

Business interests on in both Huaquillas and Aguas Verdes are also protesting, claiming the wall restricts not only the movement of people but commercial goods. “The wall separates and prevents us from exchanging legal products between the countries,” Abel Jiménez of the South Pacific Trade Association told the newspaper El Universo last week. “The merchants who once used the bridge, which is now blocked, have been left without jobs due to the construction. The wall affects the livelihoods of 10,000 people,” he adds.

Peru said it understands the delay in Ecuador’s response due to the recent change of governments in Quito but says it expects to hear from new President Lenin Moreno this week on the matter.

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