President Guillermo Lasso flew to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles Tuesday, saying his primary interests are crime and migration. The summit, hosted by the United States, is notable for who is not attending following the decision by President Joe Biden not to invite Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. In protest, five other countries decided not to attend and two countries, including Mexico, are sending only “observer” delegations.
“The battle that Ecuador is waging against illegal drugs and the crime that accompanies it cannot be fought alone,” Lasso said before leaving Quito. “We need help in this effort from the countries that import drugs.” Lasso also said he will also seek financial assistance for the estimated 600,000 foreign migrants in Ecuador, most of them from Venezuela and Colombia.
During the summit, which began Tuesday and concludes Friday, Lasso will attend three major meetings, including one hosted by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, another with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and a third focused on international investment, hosted by Amazon, Tesla, Citibank.
In addition, the president will have bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica. In addition, he will meet with Mexican officials to discuss the stalled trade agreement with Ecuador. “We have many critical multi-national issues to consider but it is important we maintain good one-on-one relations with countries in our region,” Lasso said.
Katalina Barreiro, advisor to the government on security issues, says forging cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking during the summit is critical. “The organized crime of the drug trade is an international scourge and within the last two years, the impact of it has hit home in Ecuador,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is a fight we cannot win alone and we must form alliances with other countries if we are to be successful.”
Specifically, Barreiro says Ecuador needs help from the U.S. to provide technical support. “We need to technify our human capacity in terms of intercepting aircraft and ships carrying drugs. We need the capability to detect large illegal shipments in our ports and we need help in upgrading our intelligence services so we can stop shipments and drug crime before it occurs.”
Another of Ecuador’s delegates to the summit, Francisco Carrión, says he will focus on finding financial assistance for refugees. “Ecuador is a small country and the burden of taking care of hundreds of thousands of migrants strains our limited resources,” he says. “We desperately need support from other countries, especially from the United States and the United Nations, to provide basic services for the Venezuelans and Colombians who have left poverty and violence in their home countries to find a better life.”