On Ecuador's border, FARC rebels visit often
The Ecuadorean Army says it destroyed 47 FARC camps in its territory last year. On Friday, Latin American leaders backed away from a war.
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Normally, these disputes have been resolved through meetings of foreign ministers or even the presidents that end with Colombian commitments that are not honored, says Freddy Rivera, a military and border issues analyst in Quito, Ecuador. "Colombia has never accepted responsibility for the damage its conflict is causing on Ecuador's borders," he says.Skip to next paragraph
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Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Vega said in an interview at the Foreign Ministry in Quito that was one of the reasons the most recent incident sparked such a broad diplomatic crisis. "We're sick of these things happening, getting apologies then seeing it happen again," he said.
Colombia has long complained that Ecuador does not do enough to fight the FARC presence in its territory. Successive Ecuadorean governments have criticized Colombia for not doing enough to contain its internal conflict.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused Correa of receiving financial support from the FARC, and revealed documents that indicated one of Correa's ministers had sought to talk about border policies with the FARC leadership.
Mr. Uribe backed down from the accusations Friday and apologized to Ecuador, saying Colombia would not conduct such cross-border operations in future, but also asked for more cooperation from his neighbors in fighting the guerrillas. Uribe said the incursion into Ecuador occurred because "we have not received cooperation from his government in the fight against terrorism."
Ecuador denied this, pointing to the 47 rebel camps Ecuadorean troops destroyed last year along the border. Lt. Col. Jose Nunez, a commander of a Special Forces battalion who has patrolled the border for years, says he personally participated in destroying 18 camps.
"By the time we get there the rebels are gone," he said. "They have always tried to avoid contact with us because they know it would complicate things."
The FARC, on the Ecuadorean side, also do not promote the planting of coca crops as they do in Colombia nor do they blow up the oil pipelines that crisscross the region. They also do not try to recruit locals, residents say.
"Over here those guys don't bother anyone," says Raul Alberto Vera, a farmer, as he cut through weeds with a machete on a plot along near the border where he has lived for 22 years.
The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, was due in Quito Monday to follow up on the commitments made at the summit. Recognizing that the handshake was just the beginning of restoring relations, he told CNN in Spanish: "There are still many things that need to be resolved."