By Alexander Cuadros
Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia and Ecuador named charges d’affaires in a step to restore full diplomatic relations severed last year following a Colombian cross-border raid on a guerrilla camp in Ecuadorean territory.
Ricardo Montenegro will assume Colombia’s diplomatic duties in Ecuador, while Andres Teran will be his Ecuadorean counterpart in Bogota, according to statements from the countries’ foreignministries.
Relations between the two neighbors worsened this year after Ecuadorean judges called for the arrest of Colombian officials involved in the March 2008 raid. In July, Colombia released a video showing a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia saying the rebels contributed to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s 2006 election campaign. Trade diminished after Ecuador imposed tariffs on Colombian goods.
“We’re trying to smooth relations. There are delicate issues on both sides,” Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said today on Bogota-based RCN Radio.
Colombia’s exports to Ecuador, its third-biggest trading partner, fell 17 percent in the nine months through September to $894 million, according to the government statistics agency. Colombia in October cut energy exports to its neighbor by almost two-thirds from the previous month as dry weather reduced water supplies for generating electricity, forcing Ecuador to ration.
Since August, Ecuador has removed all but about a quarter of the tariffs it imposed earlier this year.
The FARC, as Colombia’s biggest rebel group is known, operates in the jungles along the South American countries’ porous 400-mile border. A campaign by President Alvaro Uribe, who took office in 2002, has reduced their numbers and pushed them away from major cities.
Correa and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez criticized Colombia for agreeing to allow the U.S. military to use seven bases for anti-drug operations previously run out of Ecuador’s Manta base. Correa refused to renew the U.S. lease at Manta earlier this year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Cuadros in Bogota at firstname.lastname@example.org