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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ecuador Sends Note to El Nuevo Herald Protesting Article

QUITO – The Ecuadorian Embassy in the United States sent a note of protest to the newspaper El Nuevo Herald for the publication of a report saying that the country has become a hotbed of criminal activities by guerrillas, drug traffickers and mafias, the official Andes news agency said on Saturday.

According to Andes, the ambassador to the U.S., Luis Gallegos, sent a note to the editor of the Miami newspaper El Nuevo Herald protesting the article by Gerardo Reyes in which, based on a “new” study by the International Assessment and Strategy Center, or IASC, he includes allegations that, he said, have no basis in reality.

The missive, published in the opinion section of the newspaper this Saturday, rejects the content of the press article and describes the study as “slanted.”

“Ecuador, Colombia and in general the entire region are scourged by the violence of drug trafficking, which has its main incentive – drug consumption – in the United States and Europe,” Gallegos said in the letter.

He said that “unfortunately, Ecuador, being next to Colombia, is in effect suffering many of the problems created by the drug trade.”

“The negative impact caused by the infiltration of irregular Colombian groups and of multinational organized crime linked to drug trafficking is a consequence of the way the Colombian government has decided to deal with those groups on its territory – by displacing those problems to its borders,” he said.

He said that “the government regrets that those problems have still not been resolved on Colombian territory,” and added that Ecuador “is the only country that is free of coca crops in the Andean region.”

“The government of Ecuador does not deny that it is facing problems to its internal peace and security, which have been the principle heritage of my country, due to drug trafficking,” he said.

Nonetheless, he said, “Ecuador has had the highest rate of drug seizures in the region and it is precisely the government of President Rafael Correa that has taken the most diligent action against irregular Columbian groups entering the country.”

He added that “neither the IASC study nor the article in El Nuevo Herald” has gathered all the information about Ecuador’s work in the war on drugs nor “have they been in contact with Ecuadorian authorities to hear” their version of the matters described.

That, in Gallegos’ opinion, shows “how slanted the study is, the lack of impartiality and objectivity that a serious analysis must have.”

“For that reason, I consider this study to be part of a campaign aimed at discrediting the country and the government of President Correa and that, furthermore, contributes absolutely nothing to finding solutions for the serious problems Ecuador suffers because of drug trafficking,” the letter said.

The Ecuadorian government rejected Friday the article in the U.S. daily and announced that it does not rule out bringing legal action.

According to the Andes news agency, the Ecuadorian administration is analyzing the content and origin of the report, while the Foreign Ministry is considering taking legal action “against the authors of the note through its embassy in the U.S.,” without specifying whether that meant the newspaper or the authors of the report.

Ecuador’s minister for coordinating domestic and foreign security, Miguel Carvajal, said that behind the IASC report is hidden “political bad faith” and an international campaign aimed at creating a negative image of his country.

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