The presidents of Colombia, Iván Duque, and Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, met last Sunday at the Carondelet Palace in Quito, on an official visit to Ecuadorian territory. During the visit, they agreed, among other things, to reopen their land borders on 1 December. They also reached agreements on prison security, repatriation of prisoners and environmental and innovation policies.
"I want to thank all the coordination and collaboration of the teams from the Ministries of Health and Transport. We have agreed that on the first of December we will reopen our borders," said Iván Duque at the end of his visit. The Colombian president affirmed that the reopening will be "organised, structured and well focused" and will offer "a message of continuity, communication and connectivity between our nations".
This reopening has occurred due to the control of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, which is why these borders were closed in March 2020. Ecuador, with a vaccination rate of 59.78%, and Colombia with 45.89% of its population vaccinated, has ensured that both countries have a minimum infection rate, allowing the reactivation of the economy and the gradual lifting of restrictions. However, Colombia already opened its border crossing point on 19 May in Putumayo and Nariño in the hope that the health situation would improve.
For Guillermo Lasso, this reopening also goes far beyond economic reactivation, stating that it offers a solution to a security problem in the border area, meaning that "no Ecuadorian or Colombian family will have to pay extortion by any gang of criminals who charge them for passage through alternative routes".
Another of the issues that the two presidents have discussed is the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism, with the initiative to build bridges in favour of legality and security. As announced by Iván Duque, Colombia is predisposed in the "total and unrestricted commitment to provide all the support, accompaniment and integration to continue confronting enemies such as drug trafficking and terrorism, with the aim of guaranteeing security in Ecuador as a public and democratic value". In the same way, the repatriation of 170 prisoners tried in Ecuador to Colombia has been agreed, as established by the judicial conditions.
The two presidents also held a long dialogue on environmental policy and climate change. Both presidents referred to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on 1 November. Iván Duque stated that "the largest marine protected area in the world that unites several ecosystems from the point of view of protection" had been achieved, together with Panama and Costa Rica. In Quito, it was argued that this environmental policy, with the involvement of both countries in this protected area, is a commitment to climate action, with the aim of reaffirming it next year between the four countries.
The last point discussed at this summit was related to innovation, where the presidents have taken the decision to share with Ecuador the recently created office of innovation and entrepreneurship of Colombia in Israel, so that entrepreneurs from the two Latin American countries can benefit from Israeli knowledge. "I am pleased, President Lasso, that we have been able to take the transcendental step that this office will be bidirectional and to see that our nations promote innovation and entrepreneurship," said the Colombian president in the same way, in order to guarantee the fourth industrial revolution.
With these premises, Iván Duque's official visit to Ecuador came to an end, as part of the cooperation and friendliness between the neighbouring countries. This was symbolised by Iván Duque's awarding of the National Order of Merit in the Grand Collar, in recognition of his efforts to defend freedoms, democracy and strengthen the historic relationship that unites the two countries, as he published on his Twitter account. Colombia has returned the praise to Guillermo Lasso with the award of the Order of Bocayá in degree of Grand Collar for his work for brotherhood and cooperation.
Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.