An artillery unit in Quito in 1994
Courtesy Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
The predominant military concern remained, as of late 1989,
Ecuador's refusal to accept the boundary settlement of 1942 as
Other Nations and International Organizations
, ch. 4).
The southern deployment of many Ecuadorian army and air force
combat units reflected the nation's preoccupation with the
possibility of future tensions in the disputed area, although the
units were not in forward positions. Peru's armed forces were far
stronger than those of Ecuador, but analysts regarded the
likelihood of an unprovoked Peruvian attack as remote. From a
Peruvian perspective, there was no unsettled border problem. Peru
regarded the Rio Protocol as fixing the boundary permanently and
subsequent confrontations and clashes in the area as simply
Ecuadorian efforts to reopen the issue.
As the 1941 conflict had demonstrated, Ecuador was in a
vulnerable position in the event of a serious conflict with Peru.
Its coastal areas in the south were exposed to penetration, and the
port of Guayaquil could be subjected to both land attack and
blockade from the sea. In addition, observers noted that Ecuador
had been unwilling to risk the commitment of its modern fighter
aircraft during the 1981 hostilities, presumably out of fear that
Ecuador's air force would suffer a crippling blow at the hands of
the stronger Peruvian air power.
Ecuador did not believe it necessary to take special military
precautions against Colombia, its neighbor to the north, except to
limit the infiltration of terrorists and narcotics traffickers.
Like the northeastern border with Peru, the border area with
Colombia consisted of heavily canopied jungle that greatly limited
surveillance by ground patrols or air reconnaissance. The jungle
was inhabited only sparsely by Indian tribes. Ecuador and Colombia
had cordial official relations and no outstanding disputes. The
Colombian armed forces, although somewhat larger than those of
Ecuador, were not geared for offensive operations. Moreover,
Colombia was preoccupied with serious internal security problems,
notably narcotics trafficking and guerrilla insurgencies. Although
one of these guerrilla organizations--the 19th of April Movement
(Movimiento 19 de Abril--M-19)--had helped train an Ecuadorian
underground group, terrorism imported from Colombia remained
primarily a police rather than a military problem
(see Internal Security
, this ch.).
As a nation facing the Pacific Ocean, Ecuador had important
maritime resources to protect, as well as protecting the security
of the Galápagos Islands, 1,000 kilometers distant from the
, ch. 2). The navy therefore patrolled the
200-mile zone claimed as territorial waters, both off the coast of
the mainland and around the Galápagos Islands.
Data as of 1989