Duque and Lasso: Alliance Against Drug Trafficking

Ecuador is plunging into a deep crisis that has triggered outbreaks of violence in the country. A recent meeting between the leaders of Ecuador and Colombia shows the approach that these two nations will have. Will the Duque and Lasso alliance be able to defeat drug trafficking?.

Iván Duque and Guillermo Lasso

A recent meeting between the leaders of Ecuador and Colombia shows the approach that these two nations will have. Photo: TW-LassoGuillermo

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: Duque y Lasso: alianza contra el narcotráfico

In recent months, in Ecuador, there have been a series of events that have national and regional authorities concerned, as violence escalates and there is a wave of insecurity that has citizens uneasy. The strengthening of drug trafficking and criminal groups largely explains these phenomena.

In fact, since October 18, the country has been in a state of exception, declared by President Guillermo Lasso. "In the streets of Ecuador there is only one enemy: drug trafficking," was the strong message that the president gave the nation when announcing the measure, which has allowed the deployment of more armed forces in the country.

In addition, the country has a severe prison crisis that has left around 300 people dead amid shootings and disputes between criminal gangs. According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, 1,753 homicides have been registered as of September 2021, and data from the Prosecutor's Office indicate an increase in crime, which in some cases, such as car theft, has doubled compared to 2020.

InSight Crime, an NGO specialized in investigating organized crime, explains that there is a direct line between drug trafficking and riots in Ecuadorian prisons, but highlights that this cruelty increases as there are power gaps and this is seen as windows of opportunity for gangs who want to take over. As detailed in the investigation, the riots at the beginning of the year in various prisons that left about 80 dead were a dispute over control of the sale of drugs between members of the Los Choneros gang, against Los Chone Killers, Los Chone Killers, Los Lobos, Los Pipos, and Los Tiguerones.

On the other hand, during October there were strong demonstrations of social movements that blocked several main roads in the country. Among them, the indigenous communities and the Unitary Front of Workers. In fact, there is still tension and new days of demonstrations are not ruled out in the coming months.

The figures speak for themselves and show a country in need of policies that allow it to control crime and curb the wave of violence. However, the causes of this phenomenon cannot be reduced to drug trafficking, since corruption, the absence of the state in certain regions, and the crisis in the institutions, have led the country to be the perfect setting for the development of gangs. criminals. Poverty has gone from 25.5% in 2019 to 32.2% in 2021, increasing significantly, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses. In this regard, almost half of the population in rural areas (49.2%) is in a situation of poverty.

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On the other hand, the Human Right Watch 2021 report from Ecuador states that "For years, corruption, inefficiency, and political interference have characterized the Ecuadorian judiciary." In fact, institutions such as the Prosecutor's Office, the Judicial Council, and the Constitutional Court have been singled out for improper processes and negligence in various cases, especially corruption. To all this is added the chaos that the pandemic has left in terms of health and the economy.

Faced with this crisis that seems to get out of the government's hands, Ecuador is looking for strategic allies outside its borders to fight criminal groups. One of its natural allies, obviously, is Colombia, since most drug trafficking networks are connected with this country or with Mexico.

For this reason, Presidents Iván Duque and Guillermo Lasso met on November 21 in Quito to reach agreements on various issues, in which the joint fight against drug trafficking and terrorism was the main theme. In addition, the reopening of the borders were established for December 1 and the intensification of border controls to regulate migration and prevent violence. On the other hand, there will be the repatriation of prisoners to Colombia and work will be done together on environmental and innovation policies.

In this sense, it is increasingly evident that the regional cooperation of Latin American countries must be greater to face common challenges, which transcend borders and have been hardened by the crisis caused by Covid-19. These agreements must be established with solid foundations, beyond the ideological inclinations of the governments of the day, because at the same time that illegal groups are stopped, it is necessary to work on social guarantees for the communities that are immersed in the drug corridors.

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