South America’s Hottest Border Area
Armed conflicts in Colombia have prompted neighboring Ecuador to
bolster security along the border to keep out paramilitary groups
and drug traffickers, reports Kintto Lucas of Inter Press
Service. Despite the increased presence of a special forces
unit called the ‘Jungle Tigers,’ residents are worried the war will
spill into the country anyway.
The Jungle Tigers, trained at the Jungle and Counterinsurgency
School in Ecuador, are skilled in surviving physically and
psychologically in the jungle.
They carry out their missions in coordination with an
anti-narcotics group trained by U.S. advisers.
In addition to helping train the Special Mobile Anti-Narcotics
group, Lucas reports that the U.S. government offered the
Ecuadorian government helicopters, speedboats, and weapons.
Ecuadorian Defense Minister Hugo Unda describes the U.S. aid
received as ‘very insignificant,’ and says that funds from
Ecuador’s government are being used to build new military posts
along the border.
While Unda says the forces along the border will be a barrier
against any invasion by Colombian guerillas, residents along the
border are worried, especially after a near breakdown of peace
talks. ”The war in Colombia has been going on for 40 years, and it
has never leaked over the border,’ says one shopkeeper. ‘Now, by
trying to fight it, we could enter into a war without end.’