Correa Vows to Pursue Colombian Rebels in Ecuador

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Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa yesterday admitted that Colombia’s largest rebel group could be operating within his country’s borders, vowing to confront them with law enforcement and security forces.

In an April 26 interview, Correa acknowledged that Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas may be present in borderlands with Ecuador, and said he would focus on arresting rather than killing them. “We are going to capture them, not kill them. If necessary, in self-defense, they will have to confront our soldiers.”

However, Correa admitted the difficulty of detecting the rebels along the country’s 700 kilometer-long border with Colombia, half of which is dense jungle terrain. He also noted that similar difficulties exist along Colombia’s borders with Peru and Brazil, adding that this should not be taken as proof that these countries are collaborating with the guerrillas.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Correa’s admission that the FARC are present in Ecuador is far from a revelation, his promise to pursue the group reflects something of a shift from previous policies. The president’s remark about collaboration with guerrillas is likely a veiled reference to criticism that the Correa government has received over its allegedly lax approach to FARC presence in its territory in the past.

This came to a head in March 2008, when the Colombian air force bombed and raided a rebel base in Ecuadorean territory, killing leader Luis Edgar Devia, alias “Raul Reyes,” then one of the group’s top leaders. Computer files found on Devia’s computer revealed ties between the rebels and elements of the Correa government. Perhaps as a result of this, the president has taken a more confrontational stance against the FARC in recent years, and his latest statements suggests this will continue.

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