In light of improvement in political stability and increases in the defense capacity and internal security of Ecuador, together with a general decrease in regional tensions, Ecuador, in communication with the United States in the last few months, has been reevaluating the need for bilateral military cooperation in our country.
Ecuador has decided to restructure the military relationship and reduce the presence of United States military personnel in Ecuador; and the United States has accepted the said decision. This position reflects the increase in capacities and resources of Ecuador to directly assume security and defense efforts independently. For example, in the last few years, Ecuador has considerably increased its investment in all areas of security, and now invests the highest percentage of GDP of all countries in Latin America in these efforts. As a result, we have seized more than 57 tons of narcotics in 2013, and more than $67 million of illegally laundered funds, which has led the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to include Ecuador among the top 10 most successful countries in efforts against drug trafficking.
This new security scheme will reduce the number of U.S. military personnel assigned to the United States Embassy in Ecuador starting in the end of April. A central group of military attachés will remain in the Embassy, as is common in normal bilateral relations. Furthermore, a limited number of programs financed by the United States of an approximate amount of $7 million annually will be transferred to the Government of Ecuador for evaluation, and if necessary, financing.
As the United States Embassy in Quito confirmed the declarations this morning on Ecuador TV, this provision will not affect bilateral relations, as the United States government respects this decision.