President Lenin Moreno said Thursday that a policy of “extreme permissiveness” is partly to blame for the recent violence on Ecuador’s border with Colombia. At the same time, he said his government is doing all it can to bring home three kidnapped journalists.
“A climate of extreme permissiveness that was tolerated during the previous administration has allowed drug traffickers to move with impunity on our roads, something they cannot do in Colombia,” Moreno during a news conference in Latcunga. “The recent violence in the region is the result of our efforts to end this permissiveness. It is unfortunaee but it is the price we are paying for reclaiming our territory and protecting our citizens.”
He added that his immediate focus is negotiating the release of three employees of the Quito newspaper, El Comercio, who were abducted March 26 close to the Colombian border.
“We are with continuing talks, through intermediaries, to obtain their release,” Moreno said, thanking the Catholic church for maintaining lines of communication with the kidnappers. “We are going to make certain that Javier (Ortega), Paul (Rivas) and Efraín (Segarra) come back alive. As president, it is my top national priority.”
It is unclear whether the hostages are being held in Ecuador or Colombia.
The president said that he regretted the release of a video by a Colombian television station and on a Facebook post showing the hostages in chains. “We are sorry that that was broadcast. It is demeaning to the victims and very disturbing for their families.”
During the news conference, Moreno announced a five-point plan to strengthen the government’s position on the border, including the deployment of additional troops and bolstering intelligence gathering techniques.