President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, attended the inauguration of Daniel Noboa as the President of Ecuador. He was the only Latin American head of state to attend the event, as Bolivia’s President Luis Arce canceled his presence at the last minute. Later, the two leaders held a meeting to discuss bilateral interests, including the opening of a peaceful border between both countries.
However, the main topic discussed in the meeting was the climate crisis and its energy-related consequences, which have already affected the neighboring country. The president proposed a regional plan to mitigate this crisis. In this regard, the Colombian head of state expressed his intention to propose to Noboa “a unified and collective plan for the entire region to stop the adverse effects of droughts on the population.” Ecuador, like Colombia, is currently experiencing exacerbated effects from the El Niño phenomenon, raising concerns about electricity generation capacity.
Noboa emerged as the winner of the October 16 elections in Ecuador, marked by the assassination of candidate Fernando Villavicencio, highlighting the issue of insecurity and the power of drug trafficking bosses, a cross-border reality affecting both countries’ societies.
Ecuador’s Presidential Inauguration
Upon receiving the presidential sash, Noboa announced that he wouldn’t favor a policy of revenge but wouldn’t be a slave to old schemes either. He stated, “The task is tough and difficult, and the days are few. Let’s get to work.” With this statement, the new president referred to the limited time granted by law to exercise the presidency. It’s worth noting that his predecessor, Guillermo Lasso, dissolved the congress to prevent his removal and called for elections.
The newly elected president won’t have the ordinary term like other presidents (4 years), as he’s only authorized to finish Lasso’s term, which was until May 2025. Therefore, the president has just a year and a half to execute his government plans.
At only 35 years old, Daniel Noboa is the youngest president in his country’s history. He emphasized the youthfulness of his team, with an average age of 42. “For many, youth is synonymous with naivety; for me, it’s synonymous with strength,” stated the young president, highlighting the diversity of men and women in his cabinet.
Moreover, the president stated that Ecuador needs to address its most urgent problems: violence and poverty. He pledged to focus on providing opportunities for youth to combat unemployment. The country was polarized between supporters of former President Rafael Correa’s citizen revolution and those who favored the conservative continuity of former President Guillermo Lasso.
Energy Crisis and Climate Change
The main focus of the meeting between Noboa and Petro was the impacts of climate change. In this regard, Colombia committed, as it did with Guillermo Lasso, to ensure a continuous supply of megawatts of electricity to Ecuador. Colombia will increase its daily electricity exports from six gigawatt-hours to 10 gigawatt-hours to assist Ecuador in coping with power outages that it’s already experiencing.
Noboa stated, “The climate crisis is hitting Ecuador first, then comes Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama.” He predicted that “if we don’t come together to mitigate the damage from this climate impact, we’ll suffer much more.”
“In the past, Ecuador sold electrical energy to Colombia; now, Colombia is selling it to Ecuador. Hopefully, the El Niño impact will bring more rain to Ecuador. We know it will be an extreme drought in Colombia, but this could balance the loads this time in reverse,” said Gustavo Petro.
Border, Security, and Defense Issues
Similarly, the presidents addressed border, migration, security, and defense issues. Concerning the common border topic, Petro announced progress in its opening through the Mataje River. “The road is done, everything is finished, the Colombian customs are set up, the border post is ready; now, it’s just waiting for Ecuador to establish the border post, so we hope this government decides to do it,” said the Colombian president.
Regarding security and drug trafficking, Gustavo Petro spoke of “the intrusion of armed groups with long-range weapons in various parts of Ecuadorian territory, the transfer of illicit crops to the Putumayo department, and therefore, towards the Amazon jungle on the Peruvian side, the Ecuadorian side, perhaps the Brazilian side.”
Strengthening the Amazon Rainforest
Regarding the Amazon Rainforest’s strengthening, the president mentioned they hope the reduction in deforestation will be one of the topics proposed at COP28, the United Nations climate change conference that begins in Dubai next week.
“Ecuador is part of that basin; when the Organization of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (OTCA), the organization related to the Amazon, meets, we want to substantially reduce deforestation and preserve this great sponge against the climate crisis worldwide,” concluded the Colombian president.