The United States has issued a strong condemnation of the appalling levels of violence and terrorism amid Ecuador's escalating state of war with drug-related gangs. Since January 9, narco-criminal elements have orchestrated a wave of attacks, taking more than 100 prison guards hostage and targeting innocent civilians.
The Biden administration expressed solidarity with Ecuador and vowed to deepen its partnership in the fight against criminal organizations.
“We strongly condemn these recent attacks. And we are committed to helping support security and prosperity by — for the people of Ecuador,” said national security spokesperson John Kirby during a press briefing at the White House.
The recent surge in violence draws attention to the long-standing security crisis brewing in Ecuador, transforming the country into one of the most violent in Latin America. However, this crisis has deep roots, with the article pointing to former leftist populist leader Rafael Correa's ill-conceived policies during his 2007-2017 administration as significant contributors.
Correa's peace agreement with the Latin Kings drug gang and the expulsion of the U.S. anti-drug monitoring base in Manta are cited as pivotal moments that set Ecuador on a dangerous path. The expulsion left the country's Pacific coast and ports vulnerable, and Correa's lax immigration policy further exacerbated the situation. Foreign mafias, including those from Colombia, Mexico, Albania, Slovenia, and Italy, seized the opportunity to establish operations in Ecuador, turning it into a convenient drug trans-shipment and logistics hub.
U.S. Southern Command has increased involvement with General Laura Richardson set to visit in the coming weeks. The U.S. commitment extends to assisting Ecuador in criminal investigations, intelligence sharing, combating cyber activities, and aiding in the implementation of crucial prison reforms.
While former President Correa has expressed support for President Daniel Noboa's emergency measures, critics argue that Correa is dealing with the consequences of policies that fueled the current crisis. Restoring law and order in Ecuador is extremely complex due to the need for regional cooperation to effectively combat transnational criminal organizations.
As Ecuador grapples with its security challenges, the international community watches closely, understanding that the battle against criminal gangs cannot be won through appeasement. The U.S. support and upcoming diplomatic visits underscore a collective effort to address the root causes and restore stability to a nation in the throes of violence and terrorism.
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