The number of Ecuadorians illegally entering the US by
sea has surpassed the number of Cuban boat people or illegal Hatian immigrants,
according to a recent study by the US Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. The
source of the problem is that the Ecuadorian government is not funding
any resources to stop this wave of emigration, as they do not
give it priority in their budget and military planning.
The Ecuadorian immigrants have thus become protagonists of the largest
wave of maritime ilegal immigration in modern history, according to the
Since the year 2000, between 234,000 and 350,000 Ecuadorians have set
sail for Guatamala in illegal embarcations, from where they are smuggled
across the Mexican border and into the US by "coyotesm" according to
the study by Terry S. Wichert, Naval Attache, and Leiutenant Coronel
This surprising figure is twice the previous record for Cuban boat people
(in 1980 124.776 people left Cuba) and is ten times greater than the
numbers of Haitianos (25.177, between1993 y 1994) attempting to enter
It has been largely a silent migration, according to the authors, as
the international media have given little or no attention to this migratory
crisis, while for the Ecuadorian press it has become a routine story.
The mass Ecuadorian emigration began in 1999, shortly after a banking
crisis caused millions to lose their life savings, and continues to grow.
"We know that between 4 and 7 ships leave every week, with between 100
and 150 people on each one," according to the embassy.
From the old fishing
boats that set out each week from dozens of Ecuadorian beaches, it
is common to find not only Ecuadorians, but Peruvians, Albanians,
Chinese, Iraquis, Koreans and even Irishmen. The route of illegal immigration
from Ecuador is "so succesful that, frankly, it has gained international
fame. Around the world it is said that if you want to sneak into the
United States, go to Ecuador and get on a ship," according to the report.
The Embassy report adds that some of the ships that carry illegals also
transport drugs, and that the profits from the sales of these drugs reach
the Colombian guerillas. Sometimes the ships return from Central America
carrying arms and munitions.
Universo (Guayaquil, Ecuador)
translated by The Dowbrigade