Foreign policy and defense
Ecuador is a nation in South America. Its capital city is Quito. Under President Rafael Correa (2007–2017), the relationship with the traditional ally of the United States became cooler, while at the same time expanding cooperation with countries such as China and Russia as well as with other leftist governments in Latin America, such as Venezuela and Bolivia. Now the pendulum has turned in the opposite direction and Ecuador, under President Lenín Moreno, has strengthened cooperation with the central and right governments in the region.
Important relations with the United States were strained when Correa came to power. Although some of the former Ecuadorian governments also criticized US policy in Latin America, economic considerations were always in the forefront. The United States and Ecuador have worked together to combat the production and smuggling of drugs from Latin America to the United States. In 1999, the US military gained access to an Ecuadorian base in the city of Manta on the Pacific coast for airstrikes against the drug mafia and left-wing guerrillas in the border areas. But in accordance with an election promise, Correa decided not to extend the agreement when it expired in November 2009 and the United States was allowed to leave the base. However, cooperation in the drug trade continued.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Ecuador for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
A diplomatic report published by the Wikileaks organization led Ecuador to expel the US ambassador from the country in 2011, when she wrote about police corruption. The United States in turn expelled the Ecuadorian ambassador. When Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was later granted protection by Ecuador, this was criticized by the United States, which accuses Assange of revealing secret documents.
After the change of power in 2017, thawing weather began in relations with the United States. In the spring of 2019, Quito took his hand from Assange, who was forced to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he stayed for almost seven years (see Calendar).
Just before that, Ecuador had somewhat surprisingly joined the countries that left the South American cooperation organization Unasur, and instead joined the newly formed Forum for the Progress of South America (Prosur). The step clearly shows that Ecuador no longer mainly relies on the region’s leftist regimes – the initiators of Prosur were the right-wing governments of Chile and Colombia.
Ecuador is also a member of the regional organizations OAS, Celac and the Andean Community.
Prolonged conflict with Peru
For over half a century, Ecuador’s foreign policy was dominated by the conflict with Peru. Ecuador wanted the territory that fell to Peru under the 1942 Rio Protocol (see Older History). A brief border war broke out in 1995, but after mediation by the USA, Brazil, Chile and Argentina, a ceasefire was concluded. After several rounds of negotiations and periods of increased tension, Ecuador and Peru in 1998 were able to sign a permanent border agreement.
However, relations with Peru are still sensitive, and in July 2017, Peru called home its ambassador to Ecuador in protest at the neighboring country’s refusal to stop one building along a canal forming a border between the two countries. According to Ecuador, the wall protects against flooding. A few days later, however, Ecuador announced that the building had been stopped.
Tight relationship with Colombia
Relations with Colombia have also been complicated, not least when the neighboring country previously accused Ecuador of conspiring with the leftist guerrilla Farc. The civil conflict in Colombia led to an extensive influx of refugees to Ecuador. The situation has improved after the peace settlement with Farc 2016, although there are armed groups that continue to make border areas uncertain.
During the Civil War, Farc repeatedly entered Ecuador to escape attacks by Colombian army associations or in connection with drug trafficking. Government soldiers and helicopters from Colombia also sometimes infringed. In addition, Ecuador opposed the US-backed environmental degradation chemical control of cocaine cultivation in the border area. The situation came to a head in the spring of 2008 when Colombian soldiers and helicopters attacked a Farc camp inside Ecuador. Colombia justified the intrusion that Farc had pushed across the border. In response, Ecuador sent around 3,000 soldiers to the border and temporarily interrupted diplomatic relations with Colombia.
At the end of 2012, the two neighboring countries entered into a series of agreements which, in addition to the possibility of free passage across the border to promote tourism, also concerned education, infrastructure and security along the common border.
China and Russia
Relations with China and Russia became increasingly important during Correa. Following a state visit to China by President Correa in 2007, a series of bilateral cooperation agreements in energy, agriculture, technology and infrastructure were signed and China has become Ecuador’s prime lender: between 2008 and mid-2012, Ecuador received a total of well over $ 7 billion in financial support from there, while Ecuador has supplied China with large quantities of crude oil. Correa’s second visit to Moscow in four years in the fall of 2013 resulted in, among other things, proposed Russian investments in Ecuador of $ 1.5 billion, including in the construction of a gas turbine generator and in rail links between Quito and the main ports in the country.
Until 1992, Ecuador was a member of the oil-exporting countries’ organization Opec but left it in order to manage its oil production without the restrictions the membership entailed. Rafael Correa decided in 2007 to resume membership, among other things to gain access to bank loans in the Middle East. But his successor Lenín Moreno decided to withdraw Ecuador from the organization again, which happened at the turn of the year 2019/2020.
The Ecuadorian defense budget has fallen sharply since the border agreement with Peru was signed in 1998. At the same time, military income from, among other things, the country’s oil exports and civil aviation is guaranteed. The military participates in law enforcement and in monitoring the border with Colombia. The one-year military service is optional. Most summonses belong to the indigenous peoples of the mountain region.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 24 750 men (2017)
The air Force: 6,400 men (2017)
The fleet: 9 100 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 2.4 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 6.4 percent (2017)
At its first meeting, the Constituent Assembly dissolves the sitting parliament, which is dominated by the right-wing opposition. President Correa has accused the lawmakers of corruption and inefficiency.
Ecuador again in Opec
Ecuador re-joins the oil-exporting countries’ organization Opec, which joined the country in 1973 but left in 1992, when unwilling to pay the membership fee and limit its oil production.
Government victory in election to Constituent Assembly
In the election to the Constituent Assembly, President Rafael Correa’s support party gets the País Alliance 80 out of the 130 seats.
Opposition politicians flee the country
A number of congressmen flee to Colombia following allegations of rebellion. They belong to the group of 57 people who were laid off in March for opposing the referendum.
Choosing-yes to appoint new assembly
In a referendum, close to 82 percent of voters vote for a Constituent Assembly to be drafted to draft a new constitution.
The Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) votes to exclude 57 opposition members from the congress and accuses them of trying to “impede the electoral process”. Before that, the opposition has voted to exclude the TSE chairman from preventing the creation of a constituent assembly. Such an assembly would be commissioned to write a new constitution but could also dissolve Congress.
Correa takes over as president
Left-wing President Rafael Correa takes office after winning the presidential election with comprehensive promises of social and economic reforms to equalize injustice. Correa came in second with 23 percent of the vote in the first half in October 2006, when banana magnate Álvaro Noboa won 27 percent. In the second round on November 26, Correa won by 57 percent of the vote against 43 for Noboa.