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United States says it sees Ecuador as a strategic partner against organized crime

Published on November 21, 2022

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The bilateral relationship between Ecuador and the United States continues to grow. The third bilateral meeting between both governments addressed issues of security and irregular migration.

The United States and Ecuador are seeking to increase the scope of their bilateral relationship. For the third time, senior officials from both countries met to broaden and deepen the areas of cooperation.

The meeting, which took place on November 16, 2022, was led by the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister, Juan Carlos Holguín, and the Undersecretary for Political Affairs of the United States, Victoria Nuland.

The main objective of the partnership is security. The head of Ecuadorian diplomacy said that the technical cooperation of the United States in security and defense against organized crime was reconfirmed, along with prevention issues, through the United States Agency for Development (USAID).

Holguín stressed that security cooperation will be comprehensive, and the agreement on arms traceability is only one of the tools in the fight against transnational gangs.

The Foreign Minister said that both countries agreed on the need to join Europe in the fight against international crime, due to the situation that Latin America is suffering with cartels that operate “with an ocean of difference,” but who have the same practices.

Ecuador already has a problem with transnational gangs that are led by Albanians and other citizens of Eastern Europe.

America’s vision

Nuland celebrated the relationship with Ecuador and its support in the regional defense of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and the fight against drug trafficking and human trafficking.

This visit and the statements by the US official took place after the presidential elections in Brazil, which will mark the return of the leftist Lula da Silva to power.

That leaves the government of President Guillermo Lasso as one of the closest to Washington and its policies.

Nuland thanked Ecuador for its support on the international stage, especially at the UN, regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And, on other topics of interest, such as the conversations held on Venezuela and Haiti.

She also remarked on Ecuador being offered a seat on the UN Security Council, where they hope to maintain “a fantastic partnership, at a very important time.”

In addition, Undersecretary Nuland highlighted the work of the Ecuadorian government and law enforcement in the fight against organized crime gangs.

She added that bilateral cooperation will focus on strengthening the capacities of the Police, the Armed Forces and the legal and intelligence teams, with technology, training, training and information.

A primary objective, Nuland said, is to support the tracking of money from organized crime, to cut money laundering. She also referred to the establishment of a new specific court for anti-drug issues, which will begin to function at the beginning of 2023.

This last meeting in Quito also allowed the authorities of both countries to talk about the joint actions that are being developed on issues of climate change, chronic child malnutrition and irregular migration.

The first agreement to crystallize in this visit was the Open Skies agreement, which will increase passenger and cargo flights between the two countries.

Background

In October 2021, President Lasso asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to push US politicians to intensify security cooperation with Ecuador. A year later, this point has become key and generates expectations in the face of the wave of violence that the country is experiencing.

In June, in Los Angeles, Lasso took advantage of the Summit of the Americas to insist on the relevance of a Plan Ecuador, although the Executive prefers that this name not be used, due to the negative precedents left by Plan Colombia. In September, there was a more specific approach on the matter, when Laura Richardson, head of the United States Southern Command, visited the country.

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