Javier Ortega, Paul Rivas and Efraín Segarra, three Ecuadorian journalists who wanted to investigate a spike of violence in Mataje, a river located between Colombia and Ecuador, but got killed by Colombian rebels just a few days ago. Months ago, Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian President, arranged a peace treaty with the most prominent rebel group, FARC. Colombian people didn’t completely agree with it because, among other points, the deal allowed FARC members to legally participate in political events, and after almost 50 years of violence for drugs, power, and territory, they are not welcomed with open arms.
A Peace Treaty Against Public Consent
The peace treaty was signed, even though the people voted against it. Like cockroaches, fleeing for shelter, some members left FARC and created their own rebel group.
Walter Arisala, also known as Guacho, took advantage of the disarming process the FARC was going through last year. He took a few men, moved to the Colombian border with Ecuador and formed what we now know as the Oliver Sinisterra Front, a dissident group that controls cocaine traffic from one country to another.
This group has been operating in Mataje, and violence has raised noticeably; car bombs and other attacks are a daily occurrence, causing those three Ecuadorian reporters to fly to the border to investigate what’s going on there.
Oliver Sinisterra Front: Three Journalists from Ecuador Killed
Not much is known about the OSF, it’s been said they have around 200 members, but the one thing both governments do know is that they control the largest drug territory at the moment. It’s not hard to imagine that three men recording their activities in Mataje posed a major threat to Guacho’s activities.
The journalists were kidnapped on March 26, their liberation was negotiated, but two weeks later a Colombian TV network reported they had obtained gruesome photos of the three men’s bodies.
Lenin Moreno, Ecuador’s President, confirmed their deaths but didn’t confirm the pictures and pointed to Guacho’s group as being responsible for their assassination. He also promised to take severe measures against transnational drug gangs in his country.
Relations between Ecuador and Colombia
Both nations went to war in 1863; the main reason was border differences. At the time, Colombia and Ecuador had been recently liberated from the Spanish ruling and experienced difficulties figuring out if they wanted to stay together or apart.
War ended long ago, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Ecuador designated an official Embassy in Colombia, and in 1940 Colombia did the same, both countries now legally recognized each other.
Everything went smoothly until March 2008, when the Colombian Military launched an attack against the FARC on the border between Colombia and Ecuador.
Rising Tensions and FARC
Uribe, Colombia’s former President, assured he had warned Correa, former Ecuadorian President, about the attack. Correa claimed it was a massacre and that the FARC territory was full of civilians who got killed by the Colombian forces who did not have proper authorization to enter Ecuadorian territory.
As a response, Uribe assured they had recovered a FARC’s leader computer that contained information of Colombian terror cells dealing with Ecuador and Venezuela’s governments. Therefore, Ecuador suspended diplomatic relations with Colombia, but after further conversations, they were restored.
Recently, Santos and Moreno announced they were working together to end these terrorist activities, but we may be facing a second wave of guerrilla attacks between both countries. The FARC may have assured they were giving up their weapons and violence, but their leaders can’t control dissidence. They can’t assure peace after so many years of violence, and the murder of these three Ecuadorian journalists is proof.
Don’t Negotiate with Terrorists
The United States is a highly criticized country for many reasons, but their policy of not negotiating with terrorist may be something the rest of the world could learn from. Colombians voted against the peace treaty, and yet, Santos went through with it. Not because they didn’t want peace, but because they have had enough of these terrorists and their actions. Colombians wanted justice, not a hypocritical piece of paper that erased FARC’s criminal history and settled a seat in the Senate for them.
Only two journalists have been killed in Ecuador since 1992; it’s terrible that after 20 years, the count had to be started again thanks to a border drug trafficking issue.
Should we start to question if FARC’s remaining leaders could be up to something else than trying to reach the Senate and actually help the Colombian people they hurt so much over the years? How can governments guarantee Ecuadorians and Colombians safety after all this?