AS/COA Online | Colombian and Ecuadorian Relations on the Mend?

A year and a half after relations between Ecuador and Colombia took a nosedive, progress may be underway toward repairing ties. Last month, high-level officials met with the goal of pushing forward steps to rebuild broken diplomatic ties. Then, at the end of September, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said the two governments were working to restore bilateral trust. His Colombian counterpart Álvaro Uribe echoed those sentiments Wednesday ahead of an October 9 meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers. The thaw comes as Bogota announced it would share information about camps run by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Ecuadorian soil. “Let them tell us where they are and we’ll catch them,” responded Correa.

Such developments are a far cry from events that transpired back in March 2008, when Colombian forces attacked a FARC camp just across the Ecuadorian border. The raid killed more than 20 guerillas, including the group’s second-in-command Raúl Reyes. But the move also set off saber-rattling between Bogota and allies Quito and Caracas as Ecuador and Venezuela stationed troops on the border. The attack also earned condemnation from several South American countries, including Peru, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. Within days, the leaders met at a Rio Group summit and tensions cooled. Still, though troops withdrew from border areas, diplomats were not restored. Ties remained troubled in the months that followed as rumors swirled that links existed between the guerilla group and Correa's government.

Fast forward to the past few weeks, and hope springs. On September 24—after foreign ministers talked for five hours the night before—the two countries issues a joint communiqué. In it, Bogota agreed it would no longer stage attacks on Ecuador-based FARC camps and Quito agreed it would dismantle camps in the case with the assistance of Colombian intelligence about location. This week, Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said Colombia would turn information about FARC camps over to Ecuador, disclosing that two camps had been located.

Still, a Correa issued a warning that all is not forgotten. On September 28, he told an Ecuadorian radio station: "[P]ersonally, I think as any person, if you are stabbed in your back, you will never totally recover trust. You will always be looking at your back." But, after a pending military deal involving U.S. forces operating out of Colombian bases sparked South American tensions this summer, signs of improvement between the two neighbors come as welcome news. OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza will be present at the Friday talks between Foreign Ministers Jaime Bermudez and Fander Franconí, of Colombia and Ecuador respectively.