Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Ecuador
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||31 July 2012|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Ecuador, 31 July 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/501fbcbac.html [accessed 29 July 2014]|
Overview: Ecuador's greatest counterterrorism and security challenge remained the presence of Colombian terrorist groups in the extremely difficult terrain along its porous 450-mile border with Colombia. Ecuador continued to respond to this threat but it faced resource constraints and limited capabilities. The Correa administration, while still maintaining that the Colombian conflict was mainly Colombia's responsibility, repeated its opposition to encroachments by armed groups across its borders and increased its military presence in the north to discourage incursions by these groups. Ecuador's security forces continued limited operations against Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) trafficking, training, and logistical resupply camps along the northern border.
2011 Terrorist Incidents: Ecuador experienced a rash of pamphlet bombings (which involves using explosives under a large number of pamphlets in order to physically disseminate them) towards the end of 2011.
On November 17, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded inside the Ministry of Labor in Quito. On November 22, an IED exploded inside a provincial health clinic in Guayaquil and a separate IED exploded near a Guayaquil restaurant. The perpetrators used the three bombs to deliver pamphlets protesting the "unconstitutional" firing of government employees. The Guerilla Army of the People N-15 (this group claimed responsibility for bombing a television station in 2009) and the heretofore unknown Revolutionary Insurgent Armed Forces of Ecuador claimed responsibility for the first two bombs. No group claimed responsibility for the third.
On December 19, three separate pamphlet bombs exploded in front of a business building in Guayaquil and in public parks in Quito and Cuenca between 10:15 and 10:30 am. Although not identical, the pamphlets had a common theme protesting the official visit of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who arrived earlier that morning. No group claimed responsibility. Although the intent of these bombs was to gain attention for political positions and none of the bombs resulted in serious injury or structural damage, the November 17 bomb used enough explosive to cause significant injuries and could have been fatal.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Active alien smuggling rings in Ecuador continued to raise concerns about the transit of individuals with terrorism connections, particularly as it continued to allow visa-free entry to all but nine countries. Ecuadorian law enforcement dismantled one such ring involving 66 foreign nationals on March 10.
On December 14, Ecuador announced that it would increase the Plan Ecuador budget, an agency organized under the Ministry of Security to stabilize the border, from about $4 million to $13 million. The Ecuadorian military conducted more than 200 operations to help secure the northern border area against illegally armed groups between January and October, seizing small arms and munitions, drugs, and disrupting illicit trafficking. In November, an Ecuadorian soldier died in a confrontation with alleged petroleum smugglers with FARC ties. The Ecuadorian government captured FARC 48th front deputy commander Andres Guaje Chala (alias Danilo) in June and handed him over to the Colombian government.
Many acts associated with social protest, such as blocking roads, protesting without a permit, or encouraging protest, can fall under the rubric of "terrorism" and "sabotage," vaguely-defined crimes against public welfare or the interests of the state under Ecuadorian law. In some cases, human rights advocates and opposition leaders argued that the government brought charges of terrorism against persons for participating in legitimate forms of social protest. Ecuador's judicial institutions remained weak, susceptible to corruption, and heavily backlogged with pending cases. While the military and police made numerous arrests, the judicial system had a poor record of achieving convictions in all types of criminal cases.
Ecuador continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Ecuador is a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America Against Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Ecuador's anti-money laundering law, in effect since 2010, criminalized the financing of acts listed as "crimes of sabotage and terrorism" in the penal code. The breadth and effectiveness of the new law are still unclear. While Ecuador has regulations to confiscate property used in terrorism or the financing of terrorism, Ecuador lacked adequate procedures for the freezing of assets and has a lengthy criminal process for confiscating terrorists' assets.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Ecuador and Colombia exchanged ambassadors following their 2010 restoration of diplomatic relations. Security cooperation has resumed and improved. Colombian and Ecuadorian defense ministries signed an agreement June 14 to exchange border security training and intelligence that included provisions to combat illegal mining, weapons smuggling, money laundering, and construction of drug smuggling submarines. Ecuador is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and participated in meetings of the OAS' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism.