Border wall between Ecuador and Peru causes fierce dispute

Latin America

A border wall between Ecuador and Peru has caused friction between the two South American countries. It runs along one side of the busiest crossing points on the nations’ border. The border extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Putumayo river in the Amazon.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from both sides of this highly-disputed frontier.

The wall is just over two kilometers long and ranges in height from one to four meters. This wall that Ecuador is building on its frontier with Peru has prompted a fierce, diplomatic row.

Peru has said it breaches an internationally-backed 1998 accord between the neighboring countries that prohibits construction within 10 meters of the frontier.

“We remind Ecuador of its obligation to keep a distance of 10 meters, which it is not doing, for that reason we ask that the construction be halted,” Hugo de Zela, Peru’s director for the Americas said.

Ecuador and Peru were the last two Latin American countries to go to war in a border dispute known as the Cenepa conflict in 1995. Bilateral relations had improved greatly until construction of the wall began in March.

Until a few months ago, the only thing that divided Ecuador and Peru was a drainage canal, but now there’s the four-meter high wall on Ecuador’s side. Comparisons have been drawn with Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. To a lesser degree, the construction has generated similar expressions of anger and rejection.

“These are practices which don’t belong to the democratic integration of peoples, but more like the United States and Trump’s wall which is dividing two cultures, dividing two peoples,” Ricardo Flores, Governor of Peru’s Tumbes region said.

However, the mayor of Huaquillas in Ecuador, Ronald Farfan, said it is not a wall. Farfan said it is part of $4.4 million project to revitalize the frontier town.

“It’s not a wall which shuts off Huaquillas and is detrimental to the frontier. It’s a cement wall to retain the soil level. I can’t put material there without containing it. There’s been a bad interpretation on the Peruvian side and on the part of its foreign ministry,” Farfan said.

Even so, the wall has already had an impact on the fish trade. Traders on both sides said what they do is informal, but it’s not smuggling. The wall is hitting them where it hurts: in their pockets.