Ecuador and the United States signed an open skies agreement on Wednesday and discussed issues of cooperation and the fight against drug trafficking within the framework of a visit to Quito by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland.
The open-air air transport agreement “allows for the expansion of passenger and cargo flights between Ecuador and the United States, thus promoting increased travel and trade, strengthening supply chains,” he said. The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
Without specifying when it would enter into force, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry added on Twitter that the agreement “is simply the conclusion of a great relationship between the United States and Ecuador.”
Nuland’s visit to the Ecuadorian capital is part of a tour that began in Jamaica on Tuesday and will end in Colombia on Friday.
In a joint press conference between Nuland and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguin, the head of Ecuadorian diplomacy said that the meeting also addressed issues of bilateral relations “above all cooperation in terms of defense and the fight against criminal structures”.
Colombia and Peru’s biggest cocaine producer Ecuador have seen violence and drug seizures. In 2021, the country seized a record 210 tonnes; And 170 tonnes between January and November this year.
Violence earlier this month forced President Guillermo Lasso to declare a state of emergency and a curfew in Guayas (whose capital is Guayaquil), Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas and Esmeraldas, the cities most affected by drug trafficking. Were.
Nuland said, “We will be together to see how we can increase our support month-by-month to rebuild our security alliance, help them with the prison system, the police, the anti-corruption court.”
Guayaquil, a strategic port for the exit of drugs to the United States and Europe, has been the scene of particular drug violence, in retaliation for the transfer of prisoners two weeks earlier, with car bombs exploding and five police officers killed. died.
Between January and October, the city recorded at least 1,200 murders, according to official data, a 60% increase from the same period in 2021.