Could Ecuador be seeing the rise of a new rebel insurgency?
The Armed Revolutionary Insurgent Forces of Ecuador, a previously unknown rebel group, claimed responsibility for a double bombing last week.
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The real security threat does not lie in potential in collusion between these groups, however, but on the northern border with Colombia, where the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are known to operate. As InSight Crime has documented, the FARC’s presence in Ecuador was an open secret for years, and Ecuadorian security forces, like their Venezuelan counterparts, seemed to turn a blind eye to FARC activity in the border region. This changed in March 2008, when the Colombian air force bombed a FARC camp located in Ecuadorian territory, killing Luis Edgar Devia Silva, alias “Raul Reyes.”Skip to next paragraph
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Although the attack caused Ecuador to shut off diplomatic relations with Colombia for two years, it also brought unprecedented international attention to the FARC’s activities in Ecuador. This, combined with the fact that Correa himself has been accused of accepting donations from the FARC for his latest presidential campaign, has prompted the Ecuadorian government to crack down on the rebels.
With the loss of Ecuador’s tacit support, the FARC have also lost an incentive not to conduct operations on Ecuadorian soil, meaning that they could potentially be a valuable ally to nascent guerrilla groups such as the FAIRE. While it is hard to see what the FARC would gain by supporting Ecuadorian insurgents, Colombian intelligence officials allege that such international cooperation has already been documented, most notably between the FARC and Peru’s Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso).
Because support from the FARC would almost certainly mean unwanted attention to the Colombians' camps along the border, the FAIRE would likely have to become far more influential for the FARC to want to collaborate with them. The FAIRE would have to develop a much larger support base, and likely expand their operations beyond mere bombings, to include confrontations with security forces. Ultimately, the group is a long way from this, and if their luck resembles that of the other small insurgencies in Ecuador, they’ll be taken down long before they become such a threat.
--- Geoffrey Ramsey is a writer for Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region. Find all of his research here.
IN PICTURES: Colombia's FARC rebels
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