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No FARC In Ecuador: Foreign Minister

ECUADOR / 12 JUN 2013 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

Ecuador's Foreign Minister claimed there are no members of Colombia's guerrilla group FARC operating in its territory, an assertion that stands in stark contrast to a raft of evidence and statements made by the government's own armed forces.

During an interview with InSight Crime, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) do not have any military or criminal presence in his country.  

"There are no people from the FARC working in Ecuador," he said.

"Maybe somebody could have infiltrated. [Raul] Reyes was at one time in Ecuadorean territory," he added, referencing Luis Edgar Devia, alias "Raul Reyes," a FARC commander killed in Ecuadorean territory by Colombia's Air Force in 2008.   

"It could be that a Colombian who is a member [of the FARC] is here for tourism…But members of the FARC here? Armed? In camps? That doesn't exist."

Responding to the allegation that FARC members transport drugs through the country towards the Pacific coast, the minister said: "As soon as we find it, we crush it."

"We do not conceal the presence of irregular armed groups in our territory," he added. "On many occasions there have been people detained, and, in these cases, they have been handed over to Colombia or tried [here]."

InSight Crime Analysis

Patiño's comments contrast with the military's statements on this matter and InSight Crime's field research. The army regularly references the fight against FARC members operating in Ecuador, specifically on the border region. Security forces said at the end of last year that 19 FARC bases had been dismantled, 19 members had been captured and more than 173,000 coca plants destroyed during 2012. 

In January, an army general said the FARC had taken advantage of the peace process with the Colombian government to increase arms trafficking through Ecuador. In March, Ecuadorean army chief, General Jorge Peña, said the FARC had been significantly reduced in Ecuador but acknowledged their presence.

InSight Crime's own field research in the area at the end of 2012 found Colombian rebels were still active and able to operate with relative ease.

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