Archive for the ‘Ecuador’ Category

Ecuador Moves to Block Disclosure of U.S. Propaganda Activities

| December 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

By  Lachlan Markay

The government of Ecuador is attempting to prevent the release of information related to its contract with a New York-based public relations firm that may have violated federal law and is under investigation in the South American nation.

A federal judge in New York last week ordered the firm, MCSquared PR, to turn over documents related to its work for the government.

The order came as part of an ongoing legal action brought by Chevron against the financiers of a number of attorneys that won a $9 billion judgment against the company for environmental contamination in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Chevron has alleged a widespread campaign of fraud, extortion, and bribery by plaintiffs’ attorneys in that case, and brought a racketeering suit against them in U.S. courts. They also brought a suit against a Gibraltar-based investment firm that financed the plaintiffs’ efforts.

As part of the ... Read More

Oil price plunge means survival of fittest

| December 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Anjli Raval

The 40 per cent plunge in the price of oil over the past six months is testing the mettle of the world’s biggest producers, from Venezuela to Iran and Russia. But it is also a survival of the fittest at a more granular level — among the world’s megaprojects.

Energy Aspects, a London-based consultancy, estimates that more than 12 per cent of global oil production would be uneconomic if the majors were to give the go-ahead to existing projects at today’s prices.

Most at risk are those in the Canadian oil sands which has a break-even price of $80 a barrel, US shale plays and other areas of tight oil ($76). Brazil’s deepwater fields ($75) and Mexican projects (around $70) are also vulnerable.

None of this looks pretty, particularly as most new production scheduled to come on line in the next couple of years is set to come ... Read More

Oil Rout Signals Budget Cuts or More Debt for Ecuador

| December 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Nathan Gill

Crude’s slump to five-year lows means OPEC member Ecuador is facing the choice of spending cuts that risk crimping growth or taking on more debt to finance outlays, Jefferies LLC said.

Ecuador, which defaulted on $3.2 billion of its foreign debt in 2008 after crude tumbled 58 percent, will lose an additional $2.5 billion in oil revenue next year if prices remain at current levels and may need to double the amount of cash it seeks from capital markets to $4 billion, according to Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America strategy at Jefferies.

With crude prices down more than 20 percent since the government sent Congress its 2015 budget on Nov. 1, President Rafael Correa has said he plans to cut funds for new schools and police stations before sacrificing spending on oilfields needed to generate revenue. Correa, who has criticized former presidents for cutting social spending and taking on too much ... Read More

Japan’s profile rises in the Americas

| December 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY MIMI WHITEFIELD

As Asian rival China invests billions in Latin America and snaps up strategic commodities, Japan also is looking at the region with new interest.

Shortly after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Latin American tour in July, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a 10-day, five-nation swing through Latin America and the Caribbean.

His trips to Mexico and Brazil were the first bilateral visits by a Japanese prime minister in a decade, and his trip to Chile was the first such visit by a Japanese prime minister since 1996. Abe’s stop-over in Port of Spain marked the first time that a Japanese prime minister had ever visited the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, and his trip to Colombia also was the first official visit for a Japanese prime minister.

In September, Abe also held a summit with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela while both were attending the U.N. General Assembly and they discussed ... Read More

Latin America, Caribbean 2014 Growth Likely Reached Only 1.1%

| December 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By ROBERT KOZAK Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean likely reached only 1.1% this year, the slowest rate of expansion since 2009, but will jump back up to twice as high next year, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said.

The organization, known as Eclac, said Tuesday that Central America, including the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Haiti, will post the best expansion in gross domestic product in the region next year, rising by 4.1%. The English-speaking Caribbean will lag with an expansion of 2.2%. South America will expand 1.8% next year, it added. Overall the area will expand 2.2% in 2015, it said.

A slump in demand in developed economies and the slowing of growth in emerging economies, especially China, hit Latin America and the Caribbean nations hard this year. China has become an important trading partner, especially for raw materials, for many countries in the region.

The agency said an economic deceleration became ... Read More

Chevron Takes Ecuador’s Government to Court

| December 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY New York federal judge Stephen Kaplan ruled last week that Chevron may “conduct discovery” regarding a $6.4 million contract between the government of Ecuador and MCSquared, a Brooklyn, N.Y., public-relations firm. Score another victory for the oil company over plaintiffs seeking to blame it for environmental damage in the Ecuadorean jungle. MCSquared “likely possesses evidence relating to the coordination between the Republic of Ecuador and the plaintiffs behind the fraudulent lawsuit,” Chevron said in a statement on Nov. 24. The company is attempting to scrutinize Ecuador’s role in what increasingly looks like a corporate shakedown. But Chevron isn’t the only potential beneficiary of what might come to light. Ecuadoreans who live powerlessly under a repressive, secretive regime that bills itself as democratic will also be better informed. No opposition member of the national assembly has access to public contracts under Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. Requests for such information are batted away by the ... Read More

Ecuador: Can President Correa’s popularity keep him in office indefinitely?

| November 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

By Ruxandra Guidi

QUITO, ECUADOR — A meme circulating on social media features a portrait of Ecuador’s controversial president, Rafael Correa, winking at the camera. The image is split down the middle, with one half reading “before“ and the other “after.“

In the before section, he’s quoted in November 2007, soon after he was first elected, saying, “indefinite reelections are absurd, because democracy requires a rotation in leadership.”

But on the “after” side is a quote from a speech he gave in June 2014: “Rotation of leadership is a bourgeois discourse that no one believes anymore. It’s a myth.”

A recent vote from Ecuador’s Constitutional Court partially cleared Correa’s path for indefinite reelection, and it appears he’s poised to stay in power beyond 2016. The National Assembly has until October 2015 to decide whether the issue should go up for a vote, or whether it can be resolved through a constitutional amendment ... Read More

Investors Cool on Ecuador

| November 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Latinvex

Government officials and media tend to present junkets like the recent presidential trip to Qatar and Chinese loans tied to contracts with Chinese companies for major infrastructure projects like the Coca – Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant as evidence of surging foreign “interest,” often confusing loans with actual investment.

While critics moan about the price of these trips, the multi-billion dollar “portfolios” officials tout overseas sadly remain stalled, for which the Pacific Coast Refinery project isn’t the sole evidence. Data reflects a sad reality of investors still looking askance at Ecuador. Other countries in the region – notably Chile and Peru – show this doesn’t have to be so. They have similar economic structures, with commodities and agro-industry driving exports and a large retail industry. Yet they attract multiples of the investment Ecuador gets.

In the first half, foreign direct investment (FDI) fell to $295.13 million, a 26.2 percent decline from the $399.75 ... Read More

Thousands March in Ecuador to Protest Government Policies

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MERCEDES ALVARO

QUITO, Ecuador—Thousands of people marched in the capital and other cities Wednesday to protest against President Rafael Correa ’s administration and some of its policies, including proposed labor reforms and constitutional amendments.

Members of Ecuador’s labor unions and civic organizations and indigenous peoples took part in the march, which was organized by the United Workers Front, to demand changes to what they call “authoritarian attitudes” of the government.

“This is a strong mobilization showing the government there is a need for dialogue, reflection and changes,” said Mesias Tatamuez, one of the union leaders. “We are asking for a change in the direction of the government.”

Mr. Correa has said the marchers are looking to destabilize his government and that labor reforms seek to ensure job security and stop layoffs, among other things.

But union leaders said the government is looking to divide them by creating new government-dependent organizations and undermine their rights, especially ... Read More

A vote could cost President Correa his job—in 2017

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

ECUADORIANS have not been gentle to leaders who seek to prolong their hold on power beyond what the constitution allows. Past presidents who tried have been shot or even hacked to death by angry citizens (though not since 1912). Rafael Correa, the leader today, runs no such risk with his attempt to change the constitution to allow him to run again when his term expires in 2017. But he has galvanised the opposition.

On November 6th a coalition of centrist and conservative parties launched a drive to collect the 584,000 signatures needed to force a referendum on Mr Correa’s plan to eliminate term limits for elected politicians. Although Mr Correa, a left-wing populist, is personally popular, polls show that a large majority of voters want the referendum to go ahead. It may be the opposition’s best chance to unseat him.

Mr Correa’s foes have long suspected that he ... Read More

China’s tie with Latin America expands to security

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
China Daily

By ZHANG FAN

China’s tie with Latin American countries have exceeded from trade to security cooperation as China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC) is helping Local countries to build their national security control centers.

“We can say now, very proudly, that Ecuador is one of the most security countries in Latin America,”said Ecuadorian President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado this September.

CEIEC, the state-owned company specialised in engineering and defence electronics, built an ECU-911 system for the Latin American country including two national centres, five regional centres and eight provincial command and control centres.

The project, initiated from 2011, aims to unify seven security departments of Ecuador including police system, transportation, fire control and medical treatment in order to better arrange rescue operations in limited reacting time.

By now, the system has helped the crime rate of Ecuador decreased by 24 percent, ... Read More

Analysts sceptical Opec will halt fall in oil prices

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

BY ED CROOKS

Oil prices will continue to fall even if Opec countries agree to cut production later this month, according to one of the market’s most influential analysts.

Gary Ross, chief executive of Pira Energy Group, said there was an “imbalance” between supply and demand that would force prices down next year regardless of any output cuts that could be announced by the oil exporters’ group at its meeting in Vienna on November 27.

“Opec cannot and will not take the pain necessary to correct the imbalance,” he said.

Other market watchers are also predicting further falls in prices, including Philip Verleger, an energy economist who wrote at the weekend that he expected the cash price of internationally-traded Brent crude to drop to about $70 a barrel or lower.

Brent crude for delivery in the following month was trading at about $81.01 a barrel on Wednesday, down more ... Read More

Ecuadorian government tightens its grip on the press as private media fears for survival

| November 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Knight Center

By Dylan Baddour

An upcoming vote that could alter the laws governing mass media in Ecuador has stoked fears in the Andean nation that the end of a free press in near.

The constitutional court recently declared that the National Assembly could bypass a public referendum to decide if the 2013 Communication Law - which would categorize media as a “public service” subject to government regulation – will become part of the nation’s constitution.

According to critics, the proposed constitutional amendment represents a turning point in the gradual dismantling of critical journalism establishments in Ecuador while free press advocates worry that the decision could pave the way for a state media monopoly, a trend reflected by some of the leftist nation’s regional allies.

Privately-owned media companies have already been weakened in the seven years under Rafael Correa’s “citizens’ revolution.” The president has consistently berated private media in the country, accusing them of serving the interests of wealthy owners to the detriment of the people.

But journalists say the ... Read More

Ecuador court paves way for media regulation under constitution

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
CPJ

Bogotá, November 5, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a decision by Ecuador’s highest court that has paved the way for a constitutional amendment that would categorize the news media as a “public service” subject to government regulation.

The Constitutional Court announced on October 31 that the proposed amendment should be decided by the National Assembly rather than by referendum, which the opposition had pushed for, according to news reports. The legislature is dominated by President Rafael Correa’s left-wing Alianza País party, which strongly supports greater state regulation of the news media.

“Rafael Correa has repeatedly used the ‘public service’ argument as pretext to exercise broad regulatory powers over the media and influence news coverage of his government,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. “We urge Ecuadoran legislators to modify the proposed constitutional amendment to ensure that it respects international guarantees of freedom of ... Read More

Republicans Should Signal Leadership, at Home and Abroad

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Roll Call

The 2014 midterm elections were a rejection of the policies of President Barack Obama. And the Republican takeover of the Senate is a repudiation of the gridlock in Congress symbolized by the bare-knuckles tactics of outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The new Republican Senate leadership should move swiftly to seize the high ground and signal it is ready to do the peoples’ business. Quick action on several international issues — the Keystone XL pipeline, trade promotion authority and long-delayed ambassadorial nominations — are bipartisan actions that Republicans should put on the table even before they take over in January.

Although opinion polls show voters favor Republican positions on the economy, foreign policy and security, the party’s brand needs burnishing. As Obama hints at a more confrontational tone that could undermine any hope of making Washington work, Republicans can rise above Obama’s blame game by working with Democrats on tangible initiatives to bolster America’s ... Read More

Las Naciones ‘Sumergidas’ de Latinoamérica

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

Líderes políticos y diplomáticos de América Latina y el Caribe saben más sobre Cuba y Venezuela que incluso los observadores más astutos en Washington. Por lo tanto, deberían saber lo que le conviene más a su región ¿no?

Entonces, ¿por qué el Grupo de América Latina y el Caribe en la ONU le dio su apoyo a Venezuela para ser el próximo representante de la región ante el Consejo de Seguridad? Y, ¿por qué están determinados en invitar a el déspota cubano Raúl Castro a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en la primavera?; haciendo caso omiso de las objeciones por parte de sus socios comerciales más importantes, como Estados Unidos y Canadá.

Para muchas generaciones de latinoamericanos, Cuba fue el hogar de algunas de las mejores editoriales de lengua española en el mundo, cientos de periódicos y estaciones de radio de calidad, derechos laborales progresistas, altos niveles de alfabetización y ... Read More

Latin America’s ‘submerging nations’

| November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

The political leaders and diplomats of Latin America and the Caribbean know more about Cuba and Venezuela than even the keenest observers in Washington. So, they should know better, right?

Then why did the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN designate Venezuela to take the region’s non-permanent Security Council seat?

And, why are they determined to invite Cuban despot Raúl Castro to the Summit of the Americas in Panama next spring, ignoring the objections of the leaders of the consequential trade partners in the United States and Canada?

For generations of Latin Americans, Cuba was home to some of the world’s best Spanish-language publishing houses, hundreds of quality newspapers and radio stations, progressive labor rights, the region’s highest rates of literacy and nutrition, and a robust middle class.

Then came the Castro revolution. Although some may have been caught up ... Read More

Ecuador Top Court Endorses Re-Election for Correa

| November 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

Ecuador’s top court endorsed and sent to the National Assembly on Friday a constitutional reform package that would allow indefinite re-election for President Rafael Correa.

Correa’s ruling Alianza Pais party holds 100 of the assembly’s 137 seats, so the Constitutional Court’s ruling signals almost certain success for the government-proposed changes, which would end term limits for all elected officials.

The opposition has demanded the question be submitted to a plebiscite. Opinion polls say about two-thirds of Ecuadoreans favor deciding the issue in a referendum rather than leaving it to the National Assembly alone.

Correa was first elected in 2006 and his current term ends in 2017. He has said he would seek another term only if he considered his “revolution” threatened.

The leftist economist is widely popular among Ecuadoreans for his generous social spending but broadly criticized for intolerance of free expression.

Click here for original ... Read More

Venezuela, Ecuador to present OPEC with plan to defend oil prices

| November 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Brian Ellsworth

CARACAS Nov 1 (Reuters) – Venezuela and Ecuador are working on a joint proposal to defend oil prices that the two countries will present at the next OPEC meeting, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday.

Venezuela was the first country to request an extraordinary meeting of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss the sharp drop in crude prices that began in October, but the idea got little support.

“Our Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez was in Ecuador today coordinating with the government of President (Rafael) Correa, and we are going to take a proposal to OPEC,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast. “We’re working internationally to defend, as we should, the price of oil.”

OPEC meets to review policy on Nov. 27.

The weekly average of Venezuela’s basket of crude and refined products dropped on Friday by $0.11 from the week before, to $75.79 per barrel. The price of benchmark ... Read More

Peter Foster: The limits of Ecuador’s shakedown statism

| October 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Post

By Peter Foster

The great eighteenth century lexicographer and wit Samuel Johnson described second marriage as the “triumph of hope over experience.” How then might one characterize the tendency of Canadian mining companies to return again and again to the altar of commerce with foreign government partners who recall Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction?

This week, Vancouver-based Lundin Group confirmed that a subsidiary would take over the Fruta del Norte prospect in Ecuador from Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corporation for US$240 million. Ecuador is run by the left-wing caudillo windbag Rafael Correa, whose hero was Hugo Chavez, the man who turned oil-rich Venezuela into a basket case.

Mr. Correa’s  preferred mode of money-raising is the shakedown. The two most spectacular examples in recent years have been an attempt, via the “Yasuni Initiative,” to blackmail the rest of the world into putting up US$3.6 billion in return for Mr. Correa (italics) not (close italics) drilling ... Read More

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