Ecuador and Colombia to reopen border

Ecuador and Colombia will reopen their shared border today. Illicit crossings, mostly from Ecuador to Colombia, have skyrocketed since the

Ecuador Colombia border

Photo: Daniel Tapia/Reuters

Ecuador and Colombia will reopen their shared border today.

Illicit crossings, mostly from Ecuador to Colombia, have skyrocketed since the pandemic-induced closure of the border in March 2020. Most of the border is remote jungle, making it difficult to patrol and therefore highly porous. Informal trade across the border encompasses several goods, including drug trafficking and fuel contraband, but in recent months there has been a surge in migrant and weapon smuggling.

The border has also seen a significant increase in violence since the demobilization of the FARC rebel group—which had de facto control of the area—in 2016. The demobilization left dissident FARC cells fighting with drug gangs over the informal crossings while simultaneously collaborating to smuggle cocaine into Ecuador and weapons into Colombia.

The Colombian and Ecuadorian governments likely hope that reopening the official crossing sites will shift migrants to legitimate crossings, choking off revenues for the criminal groups and FARC splinters in control of the unofficial sites and reducing deaths. Expect increased patrols from both countries to continue despite the border’s official reopening—these groups are of high concern to both countries. However, due to other concerns taking precedence, enforcement efficiency is unlikely to increase appreciably.

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