U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - Ecuador

Ecuador's greatest counterterrorism and security challenge is confronting Colombian narcoterrorists on its northern border. The country's historical neglect of its 400-mile northern border and the lack of licit employment opportunities have made the area ripe for narcoterrorist influence and recruitment by Colombia's FARC and ELN.

Ecuador's response to this threat has been uneven. On the one hand, the government shifted troops to the border region, improved military-to-military cooperation with Colombia, and worked with the United States and other donors to spur economic development in the area. Ecuador's security forces conducted effective operations in the field, given the constraints on their resources and capabilities. On the other hand, Ecuador has allocated insufficient resources for its security forces to consistently and effectively thwart cross-border incursions, and has refused to condemn Colombian terrorist groups, espousing neutrality in the Colombian conflict.

Ecuadorian officers in border units believe that the FARC and ELN hold sway in up to three-quarters of Ecuador's border hamlets, with these groups' narco-dollars buying silence or compliance. The Ecuadorian police and military claim that the FARC and possibly the ELN have significant numbers of Ecuadorians in their employ. These narcoterrorist organizations regularly use Ecuadorian territory for rest, recuperation, and re-supply.

Ecuadorian police suspect several Ecuadorian groups of domestic subversion and involvement in terrorism. Of greatest concern is the 200-member Popular Combatants Group (GCP), a faction of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador. Its members, mainly students, train in the use of firearms and low-yield pamphlet bombs, which they have exploded nationwide without casualties. A handful of other radical groups, most reputed to have ties with and support from Colombian narcoterrorists, also exploded pamphlet bombs in 2005, some targeting U.S.-associated businesses.

According to Ecuadorian press reports allegedly based on Ecuadorian intelligence, Venezuela has provided training to radical leftists from Ecuador – notably the Alfarista Liberation Army (ELA). The reports indicated that ELA members received military training in Venezuela in small arms, intelligence, urban operations, and explosives. The group allegedly had close ties, as well, with the FARC and ELN. An ELA spokesman confirmed in a press interview that several members of the ELA traveled to Venezuela for training and maintained ties with Colombian counterparts.

The government scored a number of counterterrorism successes. Ecuador arrested and returned to Colombia a suspected FARC financial operative, Marcial Campana. The government also cracked down on clandestine FARC combat clinics operating in Ecuador's interior, capturing 21 persons in Quito and handing over a key FARC commander and four sympathizers to Colombia.

The Ecuadorian legislature passed a landmark anti-money laundering law in October that criminalizes the laundering of illicit funds from any source, penalizes the undeclared entry of more than U.S. $10,000 in cash, and establishes a financial intelligence unit (FIU) under the Superintendency of Banks.

Ecuador's judicial institutions remain weak and corrupt. While the military and police have made numerous arrests, the judicial system, which until recently lacked a functioning Supreme Court, generally impedes prosecutions.


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