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Colombian Army invades Ecuadorean territory

Colombian Army invades Ecuadorean territory

A group of 70 soldiers from the Colombian Army entered violently in Ecuadorean territory. “We’re going to increase the patrolling in this area and we’re not going to allow our national sovereignty to be violated”, said Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Cabezas, commander of the 55th Jungle Battalion of Putumayo, Ecuador.

30.09.2004 [ANNCOL/ALTERCOM, Ecuador] For the second time in a few days the territorial integrity of Ecuador has been violated. According to the locals of the northern border zone, Colombian government troops clearly violate Ecuadorean sovereignty by entering Ecuador in order to operate against Colombian guerrilla forces.

Thus the warnings made during the last many years by the Ecuadorean social forces concerning the US strategy of regionalising the internal conflict of the neighbouring country in a military way, the “Plan Colombia”, have come true.

So, on Wednesday the 8th of September a group of 70 men from the Colombian Army entered violently in Ecuadorean territory, according to information printed by the Ecuadorean newspaper “Diario El Comercio de Quito” on the 10th of September.

According to the testimonies of various farmers from the Ecuadorean border town Buena Vista, the foreign soldiers came around 10 am on Wednesday the 8th of September, violently breaking into and searching farms. They detained 5 young men for further questioning. “They held me for hours and asked me if I knew where the Colombian guerrilla fighters are”, said one of the five.

After intervention by the local community, the Colombian soldiers set the detained ones free at 6 pm the same day. According to the farmers the Colombian Army set up a temporal camp on the Ecuadorean beaches of the Putumayo river. “They said they wanted to confront the Ecuadorean Army and punish them for being allies of the guerrilla”, informed one of the farmers.

Because of the serious situation on Thursday the 9th of September, an Ecuadorean military patrol from the 55th Jungle Battalion of Putumayo arrived, for the first time, at 4 pm to Buena Vista.

Two battalion commanders who were in charge of the patrol listened to the testimonials of the inhabitants concerning the previous night’s combat between Colombian soldiers and guerrilla fighters. They also received accusations that “the Colombian army responded with an aerial attack from the Ecuadorian farms. The helicopters crossed the border and fired from our properties”.

Because of these accusations the Ecuadorean army organised a patrol of the riverbanks in order to uncover the bases of the Colombian military. “We are going to increase the patrols in this zone and we will not allow our national sovereignty to be violated”, said the Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Cabezas, commander of 55th Jungle Battalion of Putumayo.

The Lieutenant Colonel sent a notice to Captain Julio Chavarro, operational officer at the Colombian Southern Naval Base, containing the request that the Colombian military “avoid crossing the Ecuadorian borders, in order to maintain the good relations with the [Ecuadorian] army as well as with the border population”.

This preoccupying situation is a result of the denouncement presented on the 4th of September by the inhabitants of the Ecuadorean river town San Miguel, in which they report to have been threatened on their lives by Colombian paramilitaries. They mention the massacre on the 18th of August in the Guadalito area in Colombia.

“This massacre was announced beforehand and took place a few kilometres from our border in a heavily militarised zone where the Colombian Army's Plan Vial Energetico Battalion No.11 with approximately 1500 units operates, and where there also live 2000 families. The Colombian military forces did not offer any type of protection. The only thing they did was to offer support to the murderers”.

Furthermore they note that on the 20th of August the news on the Putumayo broadcasting station, belonging to the Colombian radio station RCN, published the persistent rumours of “an imminent massacre in the Puerto Nuevo area in Ecuador, which were to be carried out one of the following days by Colombian paramilitaries”.

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