Ecuador will implement this year a plan to reinforce its borders, particularly with Colombia, to eliminate the presence of guerrillas and irregular forces in its territory, announced the country's Defence minister Javier Ponce.
"The goal is to eliminate all activities of paramilitary groups, gangs of delinquents and any FARC guerrillas in Ecuadorian territory", said Ponce during an interview with a local radio in the capital Qutio. Ponce however admitted that the global crisis will have an impact on the military budget, but much of the equipment for such an operation has already been purchased, "so our troops will be adequately armed for the mission they have been tasked". The Defence minister said India manufactured helicopters are expected to arrive in the first quarter of the year; there are ongoing negotiations for the purchase of Russian helicopters, and the provision of sufficient munitions, night vision goggles and bullet proof jackets has been assured. Ecuador is involved in a crash program to reequip its Armed Forces and intensify border patrolling following the attack on a FARC guerrilla camp in the border area by the Colombian Army in March 2008. The incident created a war atmosphere which was defused by a meeting of all Latinamerican leaders in Dominican Republic. During the operation FARC top leader Raul Reyes and other guerrillas were killed by the Colombian forces. In spite of Colombian apologies for the military action Ecuador broke diplomatic relations with Bogotá and relations remain strained. The administration of Colombian president Alvaro Uribe insists that some Ecuadorian political sectors, sympathizers of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, continue to provide them with sanctuaries, supplies and logistic support. Colombian forces have been attacked by rebels from Ecuadorian territory. Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa vehemently denies the allegations but has decided to intensify border patrolling.